I had to meditate a bit before I began writing this story just to calm my boiling blood a bit. Deep breaths….okay. So back on March 25th, 2019, a man was arrested in the Florida Keys. Security video footage had shown him riding up to a home on a scooter with a cat in the rear basket. As the man turns around, likely seeing the cameras, you can see another cat he’s DRAGGING BEHIND the scooter! Residents called the police and Neptune Lester Hugo Steele, age 47, was later charged with felony animal abuse. However it looks like Steele is going to be able to move past the “incident” fairly quickly. No so much for the poor cat in the video. Because the courts have also decided to give him back custody of the cat!
So how do we go from dragging a cat behind a scooter to having the same cat returned to the abuser? Argh.
On the night of the incident, Big Pine Key resident David Charles Landis’s security camera had captured the suspicious activity. When his motion detector lights turned on, he looked to see what had caused the commotion. He did NOT expect to see animal abuse in his own front yard; literally!
“Looks like he was checking out what’s under my house until motion lights came on.”
He later posted the footage on the “What’s Up Florida Keys? Locals Only” Facebook page. With the dark and unclear video, he was attempting to find out if anyone knew the man on the scooter.
Apparently someone did.
The police received a call from a woman who stated she’d taken the cat from Steele. And he just happened to be one of her neighbors on Father Tony Way. He had told her the cat had been hit by a car. She rushed it to a nearby animal hospital around 3:00 AM for him. When she had spoken to Steele, she stated that he appeared extremely intoxicated. His cat, Toppy, was clearly not in good hands but there is no report that Steele fought her assistance.
But Steele claimed the blood was because the cat had been hit by a car, not dragged behind a scooter.
She said she didn’t question Steele’s story because her only concern was the cat’s welfare. It was bleeding from all paws.
It wasn’t until later when she saw the video on Facebook that she put the coincidences together. Even more damming for Steele, while she was identifying him to the police, another woman called her to confirm it was her neighbor in the film.
Deputies saw the scooter matching the one seen in the Facebook video. [It had] blood on its seat and around it on the ground in Steele’s driveway on Father Tony Way.
Back at the veterinarian’s office, none of Toppy’s injuries were consistent with being hit by a large object though. They were consistent with being dragged.
And when the police investigated further, they found a blood trail 6 blocks long.
Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay was adamant they deal with the suspect immediately. And Steele was in custody shortly after, still drunk when he was arrested.
I was disgusted by this case and made it my top priority this morning. I want to thank our alert residents and the deputies who worked together to make an arrest in this case just hours after this incident was posted on social media. Such behavior will never be tolerated by the residents of the Florida Keys nor by me.
So…how is it that Steele is now being handed the victim cat, Toppy, back?!
Well about a month ago, Monroe County Judge Peary Fowler concluded the court case with a disturbing verdict. She made the decision to let Steele have Toppy back. Okay, breathe again….
During the case, Steele pled guilty to the charges. He received a 12-month probation sentence, must pay a $1,000 fine and undergo a psychological evaluation.
He must also cooperate with the Florida Keys SPCA who will make sporadic, unannounced welfare checks. They will evaluate all the animals that he is “caring” for.
Sure, that’ll help if Steele is in the middle of committing his next abuse. But what happens when they’re too late? What happens when he is drunk again and doesn’t even REMEMBER abusing them? There are just too many factors here that could go against the animals well-being.
And I’m sure there are more facts that we won’t ever know about Mr. Steele. Driving drunk seems to be an after thought here sadly. But whether he lied originally or truly was too inebriated to know, you don’t put living creatures back in those conditions. I honestly hope that Mr. Steele regrets his actions and does all he can to NEVER put any animals, himself or others–in harms way again.
REMEMBER: SPAY/NEUTER, FOSTER, VOLUNTEER, TNR & AS ALWAYS, ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!
Related Story: Sweet Black Kitten Saved With Two Broken Front Legs–After Being Tied To String And Dragged!Related Story: Cat Found With Three Broken Legs; Foster’s Boyfriend Being Investigated For Animal Abuse
It breaks my heart that they put that precious life back into the hands of that individual. I’d like to drag him a few blocks and see how it feels.
I totally agree strip and drag that bastard
Horrible bastard get him out a bk of a scooter an do the same to him an should not be a loud any more pets
What is the he’ll was that Judge thinking by returning the injured cat back to this Psycho. The man should be belated with a baseball bat
I Messaged the:
MCSO – Florida Keys
Law Enforcement Agency · Key West, FL
& asked how they could return the poor cat to that drunken slob & I wanted the Judges name.
I’ve just posted it on Twitter, tagging Florida Keys sherrif, one friend with few accounts and some more recogniseable people. Hope it goes far and wide. Grrrrrrrr
I’m absolutely Horrified that a Judge could be so Lax! I’m Absolutely Appalled and Disgusted,that she would think An Animal Abuser, should have that poor Darling Cat Returned!!She needs her Head Looked at! I live in Ontario Canada and I look after 10 Cats everyday! They have all been strays,I have them Spayed and Neutered! Looking after a Cat Colony,gives me a Better say in saying she should be Dragged and Fired!!! No Brains What so ever!
He should be thrown in jail with a stiff fine the cat taken away and not be allowed to own or live in a residence where someone owns a pet of any kind
How is something like this allowed to happen?! The laws in that area need amended. I doubt it’s this psycho’s first time abusing an animal. He likely abuses children too.
I just posted this on Reddit/WTF. I couldn’t think of a better subreddit to put it under.
That guy is an evil bastard and is not going to suddenly change his behavior. And that judge is a moron for giving the defenseless cat back to that piece of crap. All animals should be removed from this psycho’s home and he should be prohibited from ever having another animal.
WTH was wrong with that judge??? Personally, I think the guy should have been stripped & dragged at least six blocks like that poor cat was. Plus, that cat should never have been returned to him and any other animals he had should have been confiscated.
I was told by MCSO that the clerk of court had the records for this scum but after doing a search with his name no data was available. Calling the clerks office tomorrow 8/20
Monroe Clerk of the Court
County government office in Key West, Florida
Address: 500 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040
Closes soon: 5PM ⋅ Opens 8:30AM Tue
Phone: (305) 295-3130
Looks like someone needs to find him and give him some street justice