Man who tied dumbbell to dog in Manatee River gets jail time

Bradenton HeraldJanuary 27, 2012 

MANATEE -- A man who placed a dog in the Manatee River with a 30-pound dumbbell tied around its neck has been sentenced to 40 days in jail. Willie T. Bell, 41, of Palmetto, on Monday pleaded no contest to the third-degree felony, according to Manatee County Court records.

While Bell was wade fishing and swimming at 6 p.m. April 25, the dog, a two-year-old pit bull mix named “Blackie,” was 25 yards out in the river on the Palmetto side of the DeSoto Bridge, according to a Palmetto Police Department report.

Palmetto police officer Micah Mathews happened to be passing by in his vehicle and saw the dog with its snout sticking up as it treaded water over its head, according to Mathews’ report.

“Mr. Bell said he was trying to make the dog stronger,” Mathews wrote in his report after asking Bell why he would attach the dog to the dumbbell.

“The dog was unable to touch the ground and was not able to move the weight,” the officer wrote. “When I arrived I could see only the nose of the dog out of the water.”

The officer asked Bell to get the dog and bring him to shore. The officer soon discovered the dog had been tied with a rubber cord to the dumbbell. Bell told the officer the dog had been swimming in place for about 15 minutes.

Mathews then asked Bell if he would like to be anchored to a dumbbell and left in the water like that. Bell replied, “Hell no,” the police report states.

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