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Man is accused of running over puppy

(ran PW, PS editions)

Neighbors at Florida Naturist Park say the man ran over and dragged the puppy with his van.

A nudist colony resident was arrested Monday, accused of intentionally running over a stray puppy.

It began when Charles D. Hartwell, 49, spotted the Rottweiler mix in the road as he was pulling into his driveway at 12130 Rutherford Lane early Sunday morn-ing, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report.

Hartwell aimed his cream-colored Ford van at the puppy, sped up, ran over it, and intentionally dragged it 20 to 30 yards , the report said.

"The dog was screaming and yelping and making a whole lot of noise," Donna Sparks, 51, a neighbor who witnessed the attack, told the Times. "You could hear the thumping when it was trying to get out from under the van. There's no way he didn't hear the dog."

Hartwell, who could not be reached for comment, was arrested on a felony charge of animal cruelty Sunday, left county jail in Land O'Lakes Monday on $2,500 bail. The puppy, meanwhile, while bloodied by the attack, apparently suffered no broken bones or internal injuries.

"The dog apparently seems fine," said Nancy Barco, a supervisor at the Pasco County Animal Control shelter in Land O'Lakes, where the puppy was being cared for Monday. "If nobody claims it, hopefully it'll be put up for adoption."

When neighbors confronted Hartwell about the attack, the report said, he said the puppy should have gotten out of his way and that he hoped he killed it. One neighbor told police Hartwell appeared drunk, the report said.

After a deputy read him his Miranda rights Sunday evening, the report said, Hartwell denied running over the puppy on purpose but could not explain why he didn't try to help it.

Sparks, the neighbor, said the puppy was a stray who in recent weeks had frequented the dirt roads of the Florida Naturist Park. She took to calling the puppy Cheyenne, and described it as a sweet, peaceful dog.

"If she was a vicious, violent dog, I could see why (Hartwell) might have a grudge against it," Sparks said. "She definitely wasn't a violent dog. She was meek and mild."

The incident with the puppy is Hartwell's latest brush with law officers.

In 1993, records show, Pasco deputies arrested him for probation violations relating to previous charges of grand theft and sexual battery.

For parole violations in connection with charges of grand theft and lewd and lascivious behavior, deputies arrested him again in 1995. And in 1997, he was arrested for failure to appear on a lewd and lascivious charge.

_ Staff writer Christopher Goffard is the police reporter in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6236 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6236. His e-mail address is goffardsptimes.com.

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