(WSVN) - A man’s dog was taken to Broward County Animal Care for safekeeping after he was brutally attacked. But the shelter adopted the dog out while he was still in the hospital, and now he’s suing. Here’s Karen Hensel with tonight’s 7 Investigates.

This is Bear. Timothy Sweat adopted him when he was just a puppy.

Timothy Sweat: “He is a very sweet little boy. He is a Yorkie-poo, spoiled. He’s 3 years old, and we have never been apart.”

But that changed on July 19, when Timothy took Bear for an evening walk near Federal Highway and Northeast First Street in Dania Beach.

Timothy Sweat: “I was approached by a young man who seemed very interested in my dog, and then he attempted to take my dog. And when I stopped him, he assaulted me.”

Timothy was so badly beaten, he suffered a brain injury and had to be hospitalized for nearly two weeks.

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies took Bear to Broward County Animal Care.

Timothy Sweat: “He was supposed to be taken into protective services while I was in surgery, and I’ve heard that they keep dogs up to three weeks if you’re out in a medical situation. And my dog was put up for adoption after seven days and adopted quickly.”

The woman who adopted Bear is Sharon Barnett of Margate. Timothy says he called her every day to ask her to return Bear.

He says she only talked to him once.

Timothy Sweat: “She listened to what I had to say, and she goes, ‘I have no further comment.’ And now there’s been no response from her whatsoever.”

We tried to talk to Sharon Barnett at her home.

Karen Hensel: “I’m Karen with 7News. Can we talk to you about the dog that you adopted?”

She would not answer our questions.

Timothy says he felt his only choice was to hire a lawyer.

Marcy Lahart, Sweat’s attorney: “It’s unfortunate that this had to happen. If this person who adopted the dog had an ounce of compassion, she would return the dog to its rightful owner who loves and needs the dog.”

Attorney Marcy Lahart says the shelter had no right to adopt Bear out in the first place.

Marcy Lahart: “Never have I seen a situation where the animal control knew exactly who owned the dog and where that person was, and they were in the hospital, no less, and just said, ‘Too bad, so sad, you didn’t get here in five days, so your dog is no longer yours.'”

Lahart says Bear was microchipped, and Timothy never gave permission for him to be adopted, so they’re asking a judge to order Sharon Barnett to return the dog.

Timothy, meanwhile, is slowly recovering from his injuries.

Timothy Sweat: “Other than my vision and my balance at times, I’m on the road to recovery, but it’s just a slow process. They said there’s no time frame for improving your brain.”

But his broken heart would be healed if he could get Bear back.

And he has a message for Sharon Barnett.

Timothy Sweat: “This is my child. You can’t keep him. That’s it.”

A judge still has to review the court filing. Meanwhile, Timothy now has legal bills on top of his mounting hospital bills.

He has started a GoFundMe page. If you would like to make a donation, click here.


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