No Bones About It… BUSTED!

By: Mr. Adam Kramer
By: Mr. Adam Kramer

What started out as an ordinary Saturday on Shell Island for the Charles Lawrence family ended in court on Wednesday.

"I took my family to the beach; next thing I know I'm getting a ticket," said dog owner Charles Lawrence.

Lawernce was given a misdemeanor citation for bringing his dog to Shell Island. He could have gotten six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. Instead, Lawrence chose to plead no contest.

"We are offering these defendants, most of them, a pre-trial intervention," said Asst. State Attorney Joe Grammer.

His punishment? A $35 fine, six months probation, and a letter of apology.

The state attorney's office is requiring all of the defendants to write a letter to the Department of Environmental Protection apologizing for bringing their dogs to the beach.

They must say they now know it's illegal to have dogs on the island, the affects dogs have on the island, and a simple sorry for the mistake.

Buck Castleberry, who was also cited for having a dog on the island, says no bones about it, it just isn't fair.

"The dog decided he was going to jump overboard, and he did. My roommate went to get him and when we got to shore the game warden came by and gave me the citation,” said Buck Castleberry.

Fair or not, Castleberry and Lawernce both broke the law.

"I'm very disappointed to learn that just taking my family is criminal act. I consider the dog part of the family," said Charles Lawernce.

Although six months probation and an apology letter may seem extreme to some, prosecutors say punishment could be even harsher in the future.

"I can't tell you that in six months from now we'll think that the harm is any greater for having a dog on Shell Island," said Joe Grammer.

When Newschannel 7 first broke this story three weeks ago, it started a very public debate. Last week Bay County commissioners agreed to explore some possible compromise to allow dogs on the beach legally, if not at Shell Island, then maybe another mainland beach. They'll meet again on July 20.

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