A dog in Florida bravely defended its owner during a knife attack last week, according to local law enforcement. The woman and her canine companion were injured in the incident, which took place on Halima Road in Dover, a community located approximately 20 miles northeast of Tampa. Both are currently recovering from their injuries.
The suspect, 40-year-old Joshua Joseph Mueller, is facing charges of aggravated cruelty to animals with a weapon and aggravated battery with a weapon causing significant bodily harm, as per a statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident reportedly began with a verbal dispute between a man and a woman in front of a residence. The woman was in her car while the man was outside. The argument escalated into physical violence, with Mueller allegedly shattering the front driver’s side window of the car with his fist. He then retrieved a large kitchen knife from inside the house and returned to confront the woman, slashing at her arms multiple times.
The woman’s dog then intervened, drawing Mueller’s violent attention away from her. Mueller is accused of stabbing the dog in the face and chest. The dog’s breed and name have not been disclosed.
Law enforcement arrived on the scene, but the details of how the knife attack concluded have not been released. According to the sheriff’s office, Mueller confessed to the crime upon his arrest. However, a defense filing in his case seeks to assert his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to remain silent and to be represented by counsel.
Mueller was taken into custody on the day of the incident and was assigned a court-appointed attorney the following day. He was released on a surety bond two days later, with conditions of his pre-trial release including no contact with the victim and a prohibition on possessing any weapons.
The identity of the human victim is protected by a court order and cannot be disclosed. The sheriff’s office has not released additional details about the case, including the breed and name of the dog.
Based on photos provided by the sheriff’s office, the dog appears to be a pit bull or a related breed. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister condemned the incident in a press release, stating, “This is a sad and reprehensible act of domestic violence and animal abuse that will not be tolerated in our county.”