As Lori Berroa and her children watched in horror, a Lee County school bus ran over a dog, killing it on Monday.
“It was completely preventable,” she said.
Berroa, owner of Parker’s Rainbow Bridge, an animal shelter based in Cape Coral, accuses the Cape Coral police officer on leave of giving the driver the order to move.
“I’m leading a rescue,” she said, adding in response to the police handling of the incident: “That’s not how you do it.”
Berroa said she saw a Facebook post about Ginger earlier and looked for it.
“I looked for her from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm,” she said.
Berroa and Cape Coral Police disagree over the situation that led to the dog’s death.
The incident in the 3300 block of Del Prado Boulevard North prompted Cape Coral police to issue a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
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The police response came after a Facebook post by Berroa partner Miranda Wyatt looking for witnesses to the incident. Wyatt also operates an animal rescue.
“Witnesses needed !! Anyone who was on Del Prado Ext around 4.30pm yesterday 8/23 saw the German Shepherd Dog under the school bus? We need witnesses who heard CAPE POLICE force the bus driver to start driving on the dog who was alive, resulting in the death of the dog with children on the bus and blocked traffic. Rescuers were on hand to retrieve the dog, screaming and begging them not to force the bus to drive. ANYONE has information, please contact 239-357-8998!
Wyatt, who was not at the scene, said she allegedly stood in front of the bus. “I just don’t understand,” she said.
Cape Coral Police denied the announcement:
“A CCPD officer arrived at the scene on her way home from work, where Ginger had run under a school bus on a busy two-lane road,” said Phil Mullen, Cape Police Information Officer. Coral. “The officer called him to send and activated his lights, as well as his dash cam.”
Mullen said the dash camera footage showed the officer, several citizens and the bus driver doing all they could to get Ginger out from under the bus.
“Ginger seemed naturally scared and ran under the bus which made it difficult for him to recover,” Mullen said. “The officer returned to his vehicle several meters away in order to move his vehicle upward to block bus and Ginger traffic. As the officer was away from the bus, it appeared that the citizens continued to walk. trying to coordinate the bus by pulling away safely, and when the bus attempted to move, Ginger was caught under the tires and tragically killed. “
Mullen said that upon seeing Ginger being punched, the officer came back to her and is seen in video donning gloves to help a citizen move Ginger. According to the officer, his offer to help move Ginger was refused.
Mullen also said the officer in question was off duty and was returning home when she stopped to help him and had already set up her body camera at the station to download it.
The dash cam was video-only and had no audio capabilities outside the vehicle, he said.
Mullen pointed out that the officer did not order the bus driver to proceed with disregard for the dog’s safety.
“All of us here at the Cape Coral Police Department love animals and never want them to be hurt,” Mullen said. “It was a very sad and unfortunate incident, but was NOT done willfully or negligently.”
Berroa said the Cape Coral Police explanation is not how it happened.
“I think everything is BS,” she said. “I’m the one she spoke to. The officer refused. I said I couldn’t lift the body on my own. That’s not what happened.”
Berroa said the officer shouldn’t have stopped if she wasn’t on duty.
“The officer is lying bluntly. The officer told the bus to leave,” she said. “That’s what led to the dog’s death. I was there screaming ‘stop, hit her’.”
She said the bus was full of children. “My kids in the car saw it,” she said.
Berroa said she then needs to retrieve the animal, place it in her vehicle with her three children and take it to the owners of Cape Coral, who will have Ginger cremated.
“I’m not mad at the police,” Berroa said. “… The dog could have come home alive.”