Deputy loses job in fight for custody of dog
Posted October 19, 2015 3:57 p.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2015 6:16 p.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — 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.