LARGO — Mary Green thought she heard gunshots early one morning last week. But when she peeked out the window, she didn't see anything unusual.
A few hours later, she went out to the kennel beside her house to feed her 2-year-old pit bulls, Sheba and Reba. She expected them to jump up and greet her. But Sheba was limping around the cage. Reba was dead, lying in a pool of blood.
"I literally fainted," said Green, 58. "It was a sight to see. My dogs didn't bother anybody."
Authorities say Marquise C. Haynes shot both dogs. Haynes, who also uses the last name Lumpkin, didn't like that Green's nephew was talking to his girlfriend, according to an arrest report.
"He was having a beef with one of my nephews. I guess he thought the dogs were his," said Green, who lives on Ulmerton Road in an unincorporated area near Largo. "But that didn't give him any reason to come and shoot my dogs."
Wednesday, Haynes was arrested on two charges of animal cruelty. Reba, the dog that died, was shot in the neck, while Sheba was shot on her left side just below the chest, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is collecting evidence in the case.
The wounded Sheba was initially taken to an animal hospital, but Green couldn't afford to pay for surgery. She signed her rights to Sheba over to the SPCA so the dog could get medical care, said SPCA Tampa Bay lead investigator Jill Purl. SPCA veterinarians were able to remove the bullet. And Sheba's "doing fine," Purl said.
"She's a sweet little dog," Purl said, and will definitely be eligible for adoption. But she won't be ready until her wound heals. Purl said Green can't adopt Sheba because she relinquished her rights.
Haynes was also arrested on suspicion of burglary at another location on Wednesday. He was already in jail when law enforcement tried unsuccessfully to question him. He had been arrested by Largo police on June 14 on a charge of domestic battery by strangulation.
Haynes has been arrested about 20 times in Florida, according to law enforcement records. Bail was set at $40,000.
The dogs were shot on June 13. Someone later called Green and told her that Haynes was the shooter.
Green said Haynes used to come over and play video games with her nephew. "I am going to press charges because he had no business coming in my yard and shooting my dogs," she said.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Lorri Helfand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4155.