Horse death cause for Santa Rosa deputy arrest

SRCSOMILTON, Fla., April 11, 2018–A Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office deputy was arrested April 10 on an animal cruelty charge.

John Rutherford, a Milton resident and detention deputy with the Sheriff’s Office, was arrested and booked on a $5,000 bond and charged with aggravated animal cruelty, a third-degree felony.

“He placed himself in a bad position,” said Sheriff Bob Johnson during a news conference today. “We take cruelty to animals seriously.”

SRCSO deputies were called to Rutherford’s residence to assist with animal control March 1 in reference to a horse in a condition bad enough that it needed to be destroyed  due to lack of caring, according to Johnson.

During the course of the joint investigation between the SRCSO and animal control services, deputies learned Rutherford had signed several animals over to animal control last year due to their conditions.

Deputies also learned four donkeys died at the property and were buried by the county earlier this year.

Based on information found during the investigation, a warrant was issued for Rutherford’s arrest.

He was placed on administrative leave without pay and the SRCSO has begun employment termination.

“We are in the termination process with the deputy,” Johnson said. “We’re not above the law; we’ve got to obey it just like everyone else.”

Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office release

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