Port Hueneme police arrested Dylan McTaggert, 25, who they described as a registered sex offender from Oxnard, California, KTLA reported.
Police officers were called to the beach after the suspect was reported to be fighting with a lifeguard, the Port Hueneme Police Department wrote on Facebook.
“On arrival, officers observed the subject, identified as Dylan McTaggert, throwing punches at one of the Port Hueneme Lifeguards,” the post read. “Upon seeing the police officers, suspect McTaggert fled on foot but was quickly apprehended after a short foot pursuit.
“During the investigation, it was revealed the suspect approached the victim and her small breed dog from behind along the beach, and without provocation, kicked the dog approximately 15 feet into the air. The dog went into shock and was rendered unconscious.”
The beach’s lifeguards offered initial care, police said.
“The small dog, known as Sophie, was kicked with so much force, she was diagnosed with having a collapsed lung and displaced heart,” the police department added.
The Aug. 12 post said that three days after the incident Sophie was “currently resting at home and is being cared for by her owner.”
The owner later gave an upbeat assessment of the dog’s progress to KCAL-TV, which withheld her name.
“She’s my kid so it’s been really, really hard. Friday was bad, Saturday was bad. It took 24 hours before she recognized us… She’s wagged her tail a few times so it’s pretty exciting,” she said.
A GoFundMe page was created to support Sophie’s veterinarian bills. As of Friday morning, it had raised $2,972, far topping its $1,200 goal.
McTaggert was committed to Ventura County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, police said. He was charged with fighting in public, assault on a lifeguard, and felony animal cruelty.
Police said the suspect has a criminal history.
“Suspect McTaggert is an Oxnard transient residing along the illegal encampments on Ormond Beach. He has been contacted numerous times by Port Hueneme Police for disturbing beach goers on Hueneme Beach,” the post said, adding that McTaggert was on probation for assaulting officers and shoplifting.
The post said that this year there has been a spike in incidents at the beach involving homeless individuals and that police will increase patrols.
Port Hueneme Chief Andrew Salinas said issues related to transients such as McTaggert amount to roughly half of his department’s calls, according to KCAL.
“We share the beach property line with Oxnard and Port Hueneme … These transients come over to the Port Hueneme beach area where we have a pier and facilities and end up ultimately harassing our beach goers,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to enforce right now because of the decriminalized laws in regards to some of our misdemeanors. They don’t stay in custody for very long…. It’s become a revolving door and it’s something we need to address sooner or later.”
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