DOCUMENT: Animals, Crime

"Santa Claus" Collared For Dog Killing

Man, 61, faces felonies after firing on canines

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"Santa" Collared

DECEMBER 14--A man who a witness said resembled Santa Claus shot a dog to death and wounded another canine near his Florida residence, according to cops who seized the suspect’s rifle and charged him with several felonies, records show.

Investigators allege that Joseph Seale, 61, fired on the animals Tuesday afternoon about a block from his Fort Pierce residence.

Police found the dead dog “surrounded in a pool and droplets of blood,” while the second dog--suffering from a “through and through” wound--was discovered hiding in an abandoned house.

Cops reported finding four .22 caliber shell casings at the scene of the shooting.

A witness stated that “an older white male who looks like ‘Santa Claus’” emerged from a wooded area and shot at the dogs. An arrest affidavit does not indicate if someone owned the dogs or whether they were strays.

A man who reported hearing multiple shots said the rifle-toting Seale had declared he was “going to go take care of business.”

A police check of dispatch records associated with Seale’s residence revealed that a “Joe” called 911 last month and “threatened to shoot and kill the dogs.” Seale, cops say, was the “Joe” who contacted 911.

Seen above, Seale was arrested on multiple charges, including animal cruelty and the use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He is being held in the St. Lucie County jail in lieu of $18,250 bond.

The motive for the shooting is unclear. Seale spoke with cops after being read his rights, but his post-arrest statements have been redacted from the affidavit, which notes that Seale cooperated with police and escorted a deputy into his residence so that the rifle could be confiscated and submitted into evidence. (2 pages)