Karen Erskine vows to fight on in memory of Buck & Bill

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Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 4:55 pm

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- "I was forced to kill my boys," says Karen Erskine, the owner of Buck and Bill, two Australian Shepherds that were euthanized Thursday evening after spending 450 days on “doggy death row” for biting a 13-year-old boy in December of 2012.

"I woke up feeling very empty,” Erskine said today. “I’m going to miss them, of course. I missed them from the moment they took their last breath."

The year and a half battle to save the animal’s lives came to a climax earlier this week, when Manatee County Judge Charles Sniffen denied an appeal to release the animals. The move started a countdown that ended around 7 p.m. Thursday, when the dogs were put down by a local vet with Erskine in attendance.

"All I saw yesterday in that room was a band of cowards killing two dogs and watching a woman suffer," Erskine says.

In a statement, Manatee County officials defended the decision to put down the dogs: “Neither state nor federal courts decided to overturn the factual findings of the hearing officer. The Manatee County Commission has no authority to overrule the judge's decision enforcing a state statute. The hearing officer's decision was the final decision, as required by Florida law."

Still, many in the community are outraged. On the “Save Buck & Bill from being killed” Facebook page, one person wrote, "Come re-election time you guys are out of here," while another said, "I’m canceling my trip to Florida."

Among the thousands of angry comments where also some expressing condolences, like this one: "I’m so sorry the world is so unfair. I am so sorry people can be such demons."

As Erskine grieves she says she will use the community's support to make sure no one else will ever have to endure what she has.

"I don’t want anyone else to every have to deal with the ambiguity of the law that can be taken and shaped and manipulated by whoever is interpreting it," she says.

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  • peanuttiestp2 posted at 7:05 pm on Thu, Apr 3, 2014.

    peanuttiestp2 Posts: 1

    Our government is way too involved, and people are so quick to sue, these dogs never had a chance. Sometimes, I'm just ashamed to be an american. [sad] Bill and Buck did not need to die.

  • TxGal posted at 5:01 pm on Mon, Mar 31, 2014.

    TxGal Posts: 2

    They were not running free. Read the entire story past to now.

  • buggz posted at 1:15 am on Mon, Mar 31, 2014.

    buggz Posts: 1

    I don't understand how this could happen. Karen Erskine paid her fine and completed her community service IMMEDIATELY. She doesn't live in this city. She could have left the community with her dogs, never to return. But no. That wasn't good enough. And when the dogs were euthanized not to return the bodies to this heart broken woman. Disgraceful. Jim Minix says returning the bodies to the owner would only add to the "circus like atmosphere". What an evil thing to do. It shows what kind of person he is. He doesn't represent the community. He wanted to flex his prosecutor muscles. Does it feel good to know your community hates your guts?

  • crabbysam posted at 4:22 pm on Sat, Mar 29, 2014.

    crabbysam Posts: 15

    I feel for the dogs and their owner, and to be honest it's hard to say the state is stuck on stupid without examining all the facts, such as what mitigated the attack to begin with?

    For all we know the kid was abusing the animals trying to stuff acorns up the dogs patooti. If I was a dog and some cruel kid cornered me and tried to stuff an acorn up my patooti, I'd have bit him as well.

    Seems rather cruel the dogs spent 450 days in a kennel, no matter how this came to be.

  • BuckandBillDidntHaveToDie posted at 10:26 am on Sat, Mar 29, 2014.

    BuckandBillDidntHaveToDie Posts: 3


  • BuckandBillDidntHaveToDie posted at 10:26 am on Sat, Mar 29, 2014.

    BuckandBillDidntHaveToDie Posts: 3

    The lies told by Deputy Manatee Attorney James Minix are shameful. To take a minor injury with 7 stitches and state that the boy was near death and had to be airlifted and have plastic surgery is WRONG. And to break FL law and NOT have a Dangerous Dog hearing is WRONG. For Manatee Shelter Director Ron Koper to tell Karen to get off the phone with the governor for a last minute Pardon or he would have her removed and have the dogs killed himself is WRONG (although in all fairness he did have an awards ceremony to go to where he was presented with Firefighter of the Year). For the Governor and the Mayor of Manatee to tell the thousands of people that reached out to them to interecede that they were 'powerless' is WRONG. To ignore a petition of 18k people to stop the euthanasia is WRONG. For the Manatee County Attorney's office to lie and say that they were accepting votes for what to do the day of the euthanasia and pretend they were in a meeting about it just to pass the time is WRONG. For the children's parents, Jesse and Bethany Curtis, to submit a signed affidavit stating they did not want the dogs euthanized only to retract it after talking to a personal injury attorney is WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG. This is not over Manatee County. Your good ol boy network of James Minix, Ron Koper, Judges Henderson, Sniffen & Farrance, commissioner Larry Bustle - among many others is going to get A LOT of attention now. You were all so cruel and let this happen. So many lies told. Its not right.

  • Etienne posted at 4:17 am on Sat, Mar 29, 2014.

    Etienne Posts: 26

    If the poor dogs had not been allowed to run free, they would still be among us today.

  • TxGal posted at 12:42 am on Sat, Mar 29, 2014.

    TxGal Posts: 2

    And she should keep fighting and the community. Though one of the dogs did bite, nothing was brought up as to why the dogs broke through a window. To me there is much more to this. This breed of dog is intelligent to say the least, SOMETHING was wrong there. And the county officials, I hope your days are over. I for one will never step foot in the state of Florida again

  • LA Novak posted at 8:15 pm on Fri, Mar 28, 2014.

    LA Novak Posts: 3

    Thanks for reporting this - it's good to read Karen's story and hear what's ahead. We're behind you, Karen!

  • km posted at 7:52 pm on Fri, Mar 28, 2014.

    km Posts: 1

    Thank you, ABC 7, My Suncoast, for taking the time and effort to report the other "side" of the story of Buck and Bill. There are many of us who appreciate this and share our love and concern for Karen and her boys. God bless them.

  • pderoo1 posted at 7:44 pm on Fri, Mar 28, 2014.

    pderoo1 Posts: 3

    And I'll support her all the way.

  • dsmolij posted at 7:42 pm on Fri, Mar 28, 2014.

    dsmolij Posts: 1

    After I heard this last night I thought long and hard about poor Buck and Bill. To me this judge falls in the same ranks as Michael Vick. The abuse of justice here is no different that what Vick did in the dog fighting ring. I can guarantee this judge will not be in office for much longer due to public outcry of this horrendous act. May God have mercy on his soul.

  • GaAussieLover posted at 7:41 pm on Fri, Mar 28, 2014.

    GaAussieLover Posts: 1

    Florida has long been known as the "Sunshine State" home of Disneyworld and boasting some of the finest beaches in the US. After the past year or two, Florida will be better known for as the state where children can be murdered and their killers set free, but if your dog bites a child, it gets lethal injection. Not the Florida I loved visiting as a child.


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