Man kicks dog 15 feet in the air, attacks lifeguards at California beach, cops say

Jared Gilmour

A Southern California dog is lucky to be alive after it was kicked 15 feet in the air during an unprovoked attack last week, according to police.

Dylan McTaggert, a homeless man from Oxnard, was arrested and charged with kicking the small dog named Sophie on Friday afternoon, the Port Hueneme Police Department said in a Facebook post on Monday.

Police said they responded to a Port Hueneme beach parking lot Friday around 2 p.m. on reports of a man fighting with lifeguards and discovered McTaggert “throwing punches” at one of the city’s lifeguards before he ran away from officers.

After police tracked down and detained McTaggert, they discovered that earlier he had gone up to a beach-goer with a small dog and “without provocation, kicked the dog approximately 15 feet into the air. The dog went into shock and was rendered unconscious,” police said in the Facebook post. That’s when lifeguards stepped in and called the police.

Police said the pet had been “kicked with so much force, she was diagnosed with having a collapsed lung and displaced heart.” Sophie is now recovering at home in her owner’s care.

“She’s my kid so it’s been really really hard,” the dog’s unidentified owner said, according to CBSLA. “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.”

A GoFundMe page raising money for Sophie said that vet bills for the dog have already reached $1,200.

Sophie weighs just 14 pounds, according to CBSLA.

Police said McTaggert, who lives in an illegal camp on Ormond Beach, was arrested on charges of animal cruelty, fighting in public and assault on a lifeguard. McTaggert was taken to the Ventura County Jail. He has a history of disturbing local beach-goers and is on probation for shoplifting and assaulting officers, according to the department.

“Moving forward, the Port Hueneme Police Department will have an officer assigned to specifically patrol the beach area,” police said, adding that “calls for service involving transients disturbing at the beach and citywide have doubled from the previous year.”