Neighbor faces jail because police say she used a stun gun to quiet a barking dog

Shirlee Hiller
Shirlee Hiller Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

A Key West woman was arrested this week after police say she used a type of stun gun to shock her neighbor’s barking dog, a 45-pound pit bull mix.

Shirlee Hiller, 53, was jailed on a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty, which carries up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine upon conviction.

The alleged incident took place Nov. 4 in the 2900 block of Patterson Ave., after Hiller began yelling at her neighbor’s dog, which had started barking in his owner’s backyard “because of activity at the Kmart loading area directly behind” the dog’s home, police said.

Permelia Smith, 41, told police that seconds after the barking began she heard “a bug zapping noise.” When Smith looked outside, she saw the dog “going nuts” and attacking the 6-foot-tall wooden fence, according to the police report, as Hiller jabbed a long black stick through a hole.

“Ms. Smith said she saw electricity flowing through the end of the stick as it touched the dog,” Officer Kristopher Bouvier wrote.

The dog had blisters, bumps and redness on the inside of his legs, hips and groin “consistent with being exposed to an electric weapon,” police said.

Hiller told police she never attacked the dog and only threatened to stun the dog, reports stated.

The black-and-white dog was taken to a veterinarian and appeared to have no permanent injuries, said Matt Royer, director of operations at the Florida Keys SPCA who knows the dog’s owners, Smith and her boyfriend.

“I’ve only known them to be excellent pet owners,” said Royer, who examined the dog and the scene on Nov. 14. “He’s a black and white pit mix, real nice, real friendly.”

Royer said if people are frightened of a neighbor’s dog they should record video of the dog and show it to animal control.

Police seized from her home what they described as a black cane “electric weapon.” Hiller was booked into the county jail on Stock Island at 2:04 p.m. Nov. 14 and released by 5:47 p.m. on $1,500 bond.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen