The Flagler County Commission Monday unanimously and without commenting on the case voted to approve an order declaring a pair of German shepherds in the Hammock “dangerous,” and requiring the dogs’ owner to abide by rules severely restricting the dogs’ freedom. The dogs had been terrorizing the neighborhood, injuring other dogs and their owners since 2017. It’s the first time in seven years that the commission had to vote on such a dangerous-dog case.
“These aren’t pleasant cases but they are important. It’s a role you don’t play very often, but it is a public safety issue,” Sean Moylan, the assistant county attorney, told commissioners, prefacing the issue.
Gary Schnayderman owns two German shepherd dogs, Tim and Zev. On Feb. 14, while Schnayderman was taking out te trash, the two dogs escaped from their home at 3 Flagship Court in the Hammock. They ran around the neighborhood, attacked Zelda, a sheltie dog, and endangered the dog’s owner, Susanna Sack. The attacks were unprovoked. Zelda was severely injured.
“The wound on the back was substantial in size, approximately the size of a grapefruit, where the skin was pulled off from the muscle,” Lauren Kuzimski, the Flagler Animal Hospital veterinarian, reported. “There were injuries under the skin as well with bruising of the muscles. The damage was severe enough that the skin had pulled away from the muscles on the sides of her body, leaving deep pockets between her skin and everything beneath. To repair the damage, Zelda had to be asleep while her wounds were cleaned and stitched back together. She had to have tubes put into her sides to help with the infection so that it did not stay in her body and instead would ‘drain’ out.”
“Some of the skin on the dog’s back was lost and the rest of it had to be pulled together, a drain put in to prevent infection or to allow it to drain,” Moylan said. The dogs also attacked Cody, a golden retriever, according to a report by Lonnie Groot, the hearing officer. That hearing was held on March 9. Statements by five additional neighbors indicated that Schnayderman “well knew the dangerous and aggressive nature of Tim and Zev,” and had been on notice about the danger they posed, Groot’s report states.
“In the course of investigating this particular incident, it came to light that there were many prior incidents that had never come to the attention of Animal Services, with one exception,” Moylan said. “That one exception was reported to Animal Services at the time, but there was not sufficient evidence at that time to pursue a dangerous dog classification.” Evidence of prior incidents indicated that neighbors had to change their habits to avoid the area, out of safety. One of those incidents mirrored the Valentine’s Day mauling: Schnayderman was taking out the trash, his dogs escaped, attacked a dog owned by a woman who fell down, scraping her arms while trying to breakup the fight. The injuries were not severe in that case.
“Cody had some puncture wounds on his back and I was scratched up and bleeding on my arms,” the woman wrote in an affidavit. “Neither Cody nor I needed anything more than getting cleaned up, but Cody has had a lingering fear of all dogs, something that I have been working on since then.” She added: “I never reported the attack at the time because I am an animal lover and didn’t want the shepherds to be taken away and potentially euthanized. However, things have now changed. Both before and since the attack on Cody there have been other ugly encounters with these dogs and I am sure that you are receiving communications from owners about those.”
Schnayderman spoke to the commission. He acknowledged the attacks, “however, my dogs never attacked any people at anytime,” he said. (“That is not at all proven by the evidence,” the hearing officer had said of Schnayderman’s qualification.) He disputed that he did not have the ability to control both dogs at the same time. Schnayderman charged that some of the evidence presented before Groot at the hearing was “fabricated.”
Testimony submitted for the record again paints a very different picture. An Atlantic Place resident wrote in an affidavit of a September 2019 incident when Schnayderman was walking both his dogs on Ocean Way Boulevard. “My 10-year-old son was riding his skateboard with my husband,” the woman wrote. Schnayderman’s dogs “immediately turned onto Atlantic Place and started running towards my son and husband. [Schnayderman] was knocked to the ground as he held onto the leashes and was drug approximately 10 yards by his dogs. My husband instructed my son to run into the house while [Schnayderman] was yelling ‘stop making noise with your skateboard it is making my dogs mad’ while being pull[ed] on his stomach across the concrete.”
“Mr. Schnayderman indicated that he thought that others intentionally walk toward him and Tim and Zev and that that causes confrontations,” the hearing officer reported. “That point is not well taken as the public streets, sidewalks and areas are intended to be used by the public in a manner which is safe and secure for all. The conduct of Tim and Zev are contrary to that goal.” He added: “Flagler County has proven that Tim and Zev are dangerous dogs who inflicted severe injury upon Zekla, and, when unprovoked, approached and chased [a woman] upon a street, a sidewalk, a public ground and onto her private property in a menacing fashion and apparent attitude of attack.” The woman wrote of not feeling safe in her own neighborhood. The record includes additional, similar affidavits of Tim and Zev mauling and biting other dogs–and their owners as they attempted to defend their own animals.
The eareliest complaint is from 2017, when the dogs charged two people and lightly injured them. They were not leashed. Schnayderman was on his cell phone, according to that affidavit. “We were terrified and yelled at the owner saying we had a leash law in Flagler County and what was he thinking letting them run free. He apologized and moved on,” one of the victims wrote.
Tim and Zev will not be euthanized. But Schnayderman will have to muzzle the dogs when they are in public. When he walks the dogs, he will have to do so one at a time, because he was deemed not strong enough to control both dogs at the same time. “There was evidence in the record that he was being dragged by the dogs,” Moylan said of the “large, full-grown German shepherds.” And on the property, they have to be kept in an enclosure, with clear warnings. If the dogs attack an animal or a human being again, the dogs would be euthanized, and Schnayderman could face criminal charges.
The last time the County Commission faced a dangerous dog case goes back to 2015, when a dog in the Eagle Rock subdivision bit and severely injured a child who was visiting a friend at the dog’s own home. That case hinged on whether the castle doctrine applied: didn’t the dog have a right to attack what the dog perceived as a threat, in the dog’s own home? The county declared the dog dangerous. The dog’s owners appealed. At an administrative hearing, a judge found that the dog was, in fact, defending territory, and therefore could not be deemed dangerous. But that finding was only a recommendation to the County Commission. The case had drawn a lot of attention by the time it made it to the commissioners. In a 4-1 vote, the commission refused to remove the dangerous-dog designation.
The case was only beginning. The dog’s owners appealed to county court, then to circuit court, where then-Circuit Judge Scott DuPont (later ) ruled in favor of the owners, reversing the commission’s vote. The county appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal. That court denied the appeal. Meanwhile, the county had agreed to settle the case with the owners. The dangerous dog designation was removed.
Which is to say that Monday’s vote by the County Commission may not be the final word: these cases have a way of taking on a life of their own. The signal difference in the case of the two dogs the commission declared dangerous on Monday is that they were not in their own home, they had a history of aggression well known to neighbors and the dog’s owner, and they mauled a dog and nearly attacked its owner on the victims’ property.
C’mon man says
Sounds like a few dogs need to be put down
It took 5 years to get this far!? People if you see something report it or suffer the consequences like this debacle. There’s only so much you take before it’s time to call the authorities. I would hope hope that Zelda’ injuries are healing fast but from prior experience it takes quite a bit of time. Zelda’s owner should seriously consider a civil suit so this does not happen again, it’s the only way bad owners learn.
I am 100% through and through an animal lover and advocate, especially dogs. But this is not acceptable for two so-called “pets.” Obviously the owner has no ability to properly control them and allow neighbors to their absolute right to walk the neighborhood without being in fear.
If I were Ms. Sack, I would retain an attorney and file against his homeowner’s policy for damages and medical expenses. That photo is sickening.
I am not a proponent of euthanizing, but if the owner cannot handle the dogs, they must be seized and relocated to a rural area where they will not be a danger to families and other pets.
Mr. Schnayderman – do the right thing and surrender them. Maybe next time you should try a smaller breed that you are capable of handling. Or maybe you shouldn’t have any? The breed is not innately at fault. I’ve had contact (as a pet sitter) for multiple German Shepherds and each of them have been gentle and loving. Then again, their owners had them well trained and socialized.
bad owner create bad dogs.
Peaches McGee says
I’m surprised some law-abiding gun owner didn’t take those mutts down.
Maybe because “law abiding” means you wouldn’t be murdering animals. Nice cognitive dissonance. The right thing to do is to take the pets from the owner, bar him from owning more, and go from there.
Meredith Martin Davis says
Our 10 month old puppy lab Buddy was attacked by both these dogs on his afternoon walk in August 2018. We made a police report and an Animal services report at the scene and their arrogant owner finally paid us for our dogs emergency medical vet services. He absolutely lost total control of both of his shepherds and is known in the Hammock resort area very well. Animal Services filed their report but literally did nothing at that time. This is long overdue.
The 1st attack is a freebie as there is no aggressive record, after that the bite counts accumulate. I’d sue the owner for the attack, at a certain point those GSD’s are no different than the owner pulling a gun or knife as an assault & battery. Unfortunate to put an animal down, but these are sufficient size to kill and they’ve demonstrated they are not stable. Another breed that always seems to be on the public nuisance list are pit bulls.
Concerned Citizen says
That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.
First attack is a freebie? One attack is one to many. And these dogs shouldn’t have been loose to do whatever they want anyways.
Owner of the dogs is 100% responsible at all times for the behavior of these dogs for as long as they are in his custody.
I agree that 1 attack is too many, these dogs are big enough to inflict serious damage & can kill. The 1st bite is the one that gets the counter going. One has to establish a pattern of attacks to be a threat to the safety of the community. Most of the dogs, at least the last time I was at the Flagler Humane Society are pit bulls. One of the workers/dog handlers was attacked by a pit bull.
Since dogs are considered property. Capable of inflicting this level of damage. I think owners of certain breeds should be required to carry liability insurance for what their dogs are capable of. Since they chose that breed, it’s one of the risks they chose as a pet owner. If they are responsible for accidents with their cars, the animal they unleash on the community is a responsibility to pay for damages. It’s really a powder keg waiting to go off. At what point is a neighbor justified in shooting a dog in the moment of a vicious attack ? There simply is not enough time to call FCSO & Animal Control, you’re on your own even if they local authorities are called.
So this is called breed discrimination, and as someone who worked at the Humane Society, I assure you none of them carry the same opinion. There are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Just because you don’t think you can handle working with a large dog doesn’t mean no one else can or should. The owner should have his dogs taken away, obviously, but that’s in no way the fault of the dogs.
This is ridiculous says
The fact these dogs are left in the care of the same owner is insane. Dogs should be put down or shot before they attack again. If the county refuses to do something they ( flagler county)should be held liable when dogs attack again.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
To ” This is ridiculous”
YEP YEP YEP!
I’M SURE HIS HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE IS NOT AWARE HE HAS THESE DOGS. THIS OWNER IS THE ONE THAT I’M SURE MADE THESE DOGS SO OUT OF HAND.!!!
Meredith Martin Davis says
We here in the Hammock have repeatedly witnessed this owner kivking these dogs while they srd on leash. He has created this problem
This guy sounds like a complete jerk.
Also – WHO from animal control is going to observe or supervise him? Because Im gonna go out on a limb and predict that this arrogant jerk will NOT abide by the muzzle restrictions…and then if/when he gets caught he will lie about it.
Meredith Martin Davis says
Agreed. Neighbors who walk their dogs here and have always been on watch for these dogs are now ready to call the police if we see this owner with any unmuzzled and also walking with more than one. He is expected to be a scofflaw. Ironic and terrible that the county commissioners feel another attack on either animal or human is an acceptable determination before euthanasia, therefore they must feel a next attack is an acceptable sacrifice on the part of that victim. They should share liability if that occurs.
Meredith Martin Davis says
Gary Schnayderman was witnessed today 3/30 at 6pm on our dog walk: He was walking one of his shepherds without the required muzzle. We are 100% positive that if either of these dogs decides to break away, Mr S cannot control even the single animal and clearly the public will not even have the protection of the muzzle. We will start photographing him on our walks and will submit it to the Cc Ac and Sheriff as evidence.
This is messed up on so many levels! I have owned German Shepherds for for over 30 years. With proper training they are a fantastic, loving, protective and gentle pet. They are highly intelligent and want to do nothing but earn the praise of their owner. But the owner has to have a higher intelligence than that of the dogs. In this case it is clearly obvious that this owner had not a clue. There is an old saying that a dog is a reflection of its owner, if the dog is an idiot the owner probably is as well.
Hopefully the county will finally step in and relocate these dogs immediately before somebody is seriously injured or worse. As for the current owner I’d suggest maybe a goldfish for a pet
Bill C says
What makes the County Commission think that this irresponsible guy will make sure the dogs are muzzled when they go out? An “accident” waiting to happen (again).
Land of no blinkers says
First of all, I’m an avid animal lover! I have 1 (had two but unfortunately my inbred poodle died at 15 1/2 about a month ago), and two cats. When I lived in NJ I had 3 dogs and 4 cats (all died of old age). I did alot of rescue work in NJ (about 18 yrs ago) transporting dogs from kill shelters in the south to no-kill shelter in the north. But, these dogs cannot continue to live in a community where they are mauling people and other animals! I love my pets, but I would never allow this behavior, maybe this is why these dogs behave the way they do! GSD need skilled training, not corporal punishment (I’m not saying this is the case). They need strick behavior training to learn their limits of behavior. Obviously this owner did not give or aquire that training. I can’t imagine being afraid to walk on my street, what a shame!!
I bike ride in the Hammock often, and if it’s the same owner & dogs as described in the article, I’m not surprised. The dogs have lunged at me frequently as I’m trying to ride by, and at times the owner has had trouble restraining the dogs from attacking me. The owner often dresses in (the same) military style camo pants and shirt just about every time I’ve seen him. From the very first time I encountered him and his dogs, I sensed right away that there was something wrong with all three of them.
It’s very sad animals always seem to have to pay the price for their owners negligence. And in some cases are euthanized.
Assuming that the events, as detailed in the story, are accurate, I believe that Mr. Schnayderman should be banned from owning any dogs. He should have to surrender his dogs and they should be euthanized.
It is annoying when dogs roam at large. It is a cruelty to the dogs as they are in danger of being hit by a car or in this case vigilante justice. It is flat out unacceptable to keep any animal which will, without provocation, attack people or pets. It is criminal to expose innocent people and pets to such animals.
It is also apparent that Mr. Schnayderman has been committing a type of theft. By his actions and those of his dogs, he has stolen or attempted to steal from his neighbors their use of public property (street right-of-way, sidewalk, etc.) near his property.
From the story: “Mr. Schnayderman indicated that he thought that others intentionally walk toward him and Tim and Zev and that that causes confrontations,” the hearing officer reported. “That point is not well taken as the public streets, sidewalks and areas are intended to be used by the public in a manner which is safe and secure for all. The conduct of Tim and Zev are contrary to that goal.”
Muzzles in public... what a joke this county is says
So the dogs escaped while he was taking out his trash yet the county thinks declaring the dogs dangerous and ordering they wear a muzzle in public is sufficient?? THEY ESCAPED….soo when they escape again just when or how exactly do the muzzles get put on? This man has no control of these dogs and is negligent and given previous incidents he is not likely to do anything proactive to correct the situation. The county should have removed the dogs from his custody instead they come up with this joke of a plan, they should also be held responsible for future incidents.
Odd name to use-why a name as such? Your seriously that much against one particular breed of dog?? This article actually articulates the very fact that any and all breeds can be dangerous if in the hands of an incompetent owner and left untrained and unsocialized.Weird
You have to hit the owner where it hurts.
Hit him in his wallet. Sue him. That will certainly get his attention. Also, if you are proficient with a firearm and licensed to carry, I suggest you do. If a dog attacks me or mine, it does not get a second chance.
Hammock Resident says
Okay, the dogs are being provoked by a pedestrian. Rationalization is an interesting thing!
There are folks in the Hammock who, to this day refuse, and I mean refuse, to put their dogs on a leash, or keep them within their fenced yards. Most people here have their animals on a leash, but it’s just not enough that “most people” are considerate. We had a 21 year old cat that I would take on a leash to the back yard, to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. She is now gone, but we have another 21 year old kitty whom I’d like to take out on a leash too. I don’t dare do that in fear that one, or more, of the loose dogs could attack him. These dogs do tend to pack up. This is not news to the county.
I’ve nicknamed this area as “Dog Patch.” Now, in all fairness, I used to live in Boca Raton, and they have a Dog Patch too! Mail carriers hate the place. I’ve also chased a dog away from a frightened boy in Delray Beach. Crazy that a child cannot ride his bike without being chased by a dog. Selfishness is everywhere these days.
I think it would be good to have a designated dog beach, where dog owners would basically police each other in order to keep the dog beach open and safe. As for dogs running loose, there just needs to be not only reporting, but Sheriff Deputies cruising through more often and Flagler County’s humane patrol as well. How about the C.O.P.s? When they spot a dog (or dogs) running lose, check the tag and follow through. No tag, or fear of approaching an unknown dog? Call Humane and have the animal picked up.
People should be able to safely walk through a neighborhood with their pet on a leash. This is a county problem, and the county should be active in resolving it.