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Deputy loses job in fight for custody of dog

Posted October 19, 2015
Updated October 20, 2015

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— A Hoke County sheriff's deputy embroiled in a custody battle over a bomb-sniffing dog said he lost his job Monday as a result of the fight.

Deon Fuller said the dog, a pit bull named Howard, has fulfilled his duty and found a loving home with his family.

Alex Reimer, Howard's Army handler, has started a Facebook campaign to bring the dog to Colorado where he now lives. The Facebook page, "Bring Howard Home," has more than 25,000 likes.

Reimer said he lost track of Howard in 2013 but recently located the dog in Fayetteville and had a friend check on him. Reimer claims that the dog was found tethered to a tree in the backyard.

“It’s just tough knowing your best friend is out there tied to a tree and not being taken care of to the best of their ability," he said.

Animal control officials say the claims are unfounded, and Fuller says his family has been threatened. It's unclear why Fuller lost his job with the sheriff's office.

"We tried to throw out some compensation to buy Howard from his family," Reimer said. "We even tried to attempt to approach it and make officer Fuller look like a hero."

Fuller said he turned down $1,500 last week and that he wanted 17,000 people who liked the Facebook page to donate $10 apiece for the dog.

The former sheriff's deputy also said he used to threaten to use his position to look up IP addresses of people on the page to sue them.

"I did say that; Was I actually planning on doing that? Of course not," Fuller said. "But you know, like I said this morning to someone, I've never had the world upset at me before."

Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin told WRAL that Fuller was not fired because he would not give up Howard to Reimer. Hubert said North Carolina law states that the sheriff, elected by the people, has the exclusive right to hire, discharge and supervise the employees of his office.

Reimer believes a reunion with Howard would help him with his PTSD.

"I can't give him back something he never had," Fuller said. "He was the handler, not the owner. He had Howard for nine months, I've had Howard for almost two years. Imagine the bond that Howard and my children have."

Fuller denies claims that Howard is being mistreated and said that animal control officers who investigated Reimer's allegations agreed.

“As of right now, I’m saying Howard is my dog, and he is home with myself and my family,” said Fuller.

43 Comments

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  • Nancy Carroll Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    If anyone wants to learn the facts of this case go to the Facebook page
    Bring Howard Home..
    WRAL has butchered this story...
    The town of Taylortown's Police Dept (POP 700) near Fayetteville adopted 6 Military War Dogs in Feb 2014 and gave (or sold) them as pets within weeks. Howard is the only one that has been found so far...By doing this they broke Robby's Law which protects a veteran's right to adopt his war dog when it retires..Howard & Alex served our country together and deserve to be together now...

  • Nancy Carroll Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    Misleading headline WRAL...(but what is new)
    In the body of the story Fuller mentions that he did threaten to use his LEO position
    to look up IP addresses of posters of the facebook page Bring Howard Home and then to sue those people that he looked up...
    Golly ...I wonder if that could have anything to do with you being fired, Mr Fuller !!!

  • packerdnd Oct 22, 2015

    Steven Cousler, I personally think you are just a plain heartless individual. No concept or respect for the Military that put their lives on the line, and as for the deputy, I have no respect that he refused to give the dog back and then threatens people. He got fired do to his own arrogance. My dogs are treated like my children. I would never tie them to a tree, muzzle them. It's like I tell people, I have two Huskies and if you cannot handle the fur then don't come over.

  • K Hope Capps Oct 21, 2015
    user avatar

    After further internet research, I do see that there are some suspect pictures, but are they showing the full scale of the situation? I'm not sure of the law in Hoke County, but in Wake County, a dog can be tethered, but there has to be water and a proper shelter. The photos of Howard tethered to the tree are cropped. Does he have access to a porch or a house?

  • K Hope Capps Oct 21, 2015
    user avatar

    This is a tough call. If the Fullers purchased the dog in good faith, it's not THEIR fault. I can't see taking a dog away from a loving family. On the flip side, I sympathize with the handler. Really, the fault here lies with the organization that sold the dog. Where's the outrage at them?

  • Deb Rodgers Oct 21, 2015
    user avatar

    I could not keep a dog I had adopted knowing that his former owner, a veteran, wanted the dog back. For all that our servicemen and women do for our country, requesting that they wished to be reunited w/ their "partner" dog...I would gladly return the dog to him.

  • Salli Gallagher Oct 21, 2015
    user avatar

    The deputy probably has children that have become attached to the dog.

  • Matthew Sullivan Oct 21, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    I'm sorry sir but you've got to be a liberal to speed out the nonsense that you did about this topic and I honestly pray for you and your blatant ignorance. I bet you believe that guns actually kill people and not the person using it and that spoons make people fat instead of the fact that that person uses the spoon to shovel ice cream down their throats. You poor ignorant libtard.

  • Matthew Sullivan Oct 21, 2015
    user avatar

    First option at adopting said military working dog and if that person doesn't want them or is not in position to adopt the dog they're supposed to go to the dogs next handler and so on before they're allowed to adopt the dog to someone else like they did with this dog. So actually the dog should legally have been given to the soldier to begin with.

  • Matthew Sullivan Oct 21, 2015
    user avatar

    Steven Cousler I've got to say that you comparing the dog being on a leash and being tied to a tree about the dumbest thing I've heard in a good while. The two are no where near the same thing and while in Afghanistan if they were not on patrol normally the dogs are kept in a kennel and not a crate with a muzzle on. Also to everyone else on here that doesn't understand why the deputy was fired then y'all must have problems with comprehending what you read. I am aware that it didn't flat out say that he was fired for abuse of power but that's what happened. The fact that he said he was going to use his position as a deputy to look up peoples IP addresses in order to sue them was a blatant abuse of power and in turn got him fired. Now on to the ones that say that the soldier doesn't have any right to the dog you are all incorrect because of a Bill that was passed several years ago that states that all military working dogs once their service time is up the dogs original handler has the f

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