County Civil Court: APPELLATE PROCEDURE – record – no transcript-Court is limited to review of the trial court’s Order- court found that Veciada forfeited her rights to the custody of dog “based on her relationship” with Cabrera-Court can not determine why that relationship would support a finding that she forfeited her rights –remand case back to the trial court in order for court to clarify what is meant by the term “relationship” or make further factual findings to support the court’s conclusion. Cabrera and Veciada v. Pasco County, No. 512006AP2 (Fla. 6th Cir App. Ct. February 23, 2007).

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA, IN AND FOR PASCO COUNTY

APPELLATE DIVISION

 

 

RODOLFO TOMAS CABRERA and

ANABEL VECIADA,

                        Appellants,

                                                                       

v.

 

PASCO COUNTY, FLORIDA                       CASE NO: 512006AP2

                                                                        Lower No: 512006CC1344ES

                        Appellee,

__________________________/

 

Appeal from Pasco County Court

County Judge William G. Sestak

 

William K. Eble, Esq.  

Attorney for Appellant

 

Alyssa A. Ruge, Esq.

Attorney for Appellee.

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

This appeal arises from the trial court’s order granting plaintiffs’ petition for custody dated May 9, 2006.  Pasco County had  filed a petition for custody of a male pit bull terrier named Snoopy following Snoopy’s seizure by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.    Snoopy was seized by the sheriff’s office on March 26, 2006, after a complaint was received that a dog fighting contest was about to take place at a residence located within Dade City. Cabrera and Veciada claim to be the co-owners of Snoopy. When the police arrived at the scene, they discovered a dog fighting arena, a cock fighting arena, exercise equipment used to strengthen a dog’s muscles, sutures, and other veterinarian equipment to treat injured animals.

A hearing was held on the Petition for Custody. Based upon the evidence, the trial court found Cabrera had forfeited his right to the custody of Snoopy by his conduct.  The trial court also found, based on her relationship with Cabrera, Defendant Veciada also forfeited her right to the custody of Snoopy. There is no transcript of the hearing.

Appellant raises four issues on appeal; (1)whether the trial court erred by terminating the rights of VECIADA because she jointly owned the animal and was not aware of the dog’s use in past or present dog fights; (2) whether the trial court erred by failing to make a finding that VECIADA was unable or unfit to adequately provide for Snoopy and that the “record is void of any evidence to support such a finding” against VECIADA; (3) whether the trial court erred in admitting testimony of the detective regarding incriminating statements made by the person arrested, that implicated and incriminated CABRERA as paying to use the property for dog fighting; and (4) whether the evidence and record are insufficient to support the trial court’s finding that CABRERA forfeited his rights to Snoopy because there is not clear and convincing evidence that that Snoopy had been in a dog fight while owned by the appellant’s.  

Since there is no record in this case, the Court is limited to review of the trial court’s Order.  Having reviewed the Order and the briefs, this Court finds that issues three and four are without merit because the court’s Order contains substantial, competent evidence to support the findings as to those two issues. However, this Court can not say the same as to issues one and two.  Specifically, it appears the court found that Veciada forfeited her rights to the custody of Snoopy “based on her relationship” with Cabrera. However, in the absence of a record, this Court can not determine why that relationship would support a finding that Veciada forfeited her rights to Snoopy.  Accordingly, this Court is remanding this case back to the trial court in Order for the court to clarify what is meant by the term “relationship” or make further factual findings to support the court’s conclusion that Veciada has also forfeited her right to the custody of Snoopy.  It is therefore,

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the decision of the trial court is REVERSED and this cause remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

 

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at New Port Richey, Pasco County, Florida this ________ day of  February, 2008.

 

                                                                                    _____________________

                                                                                    W. Lowell Bray, Circuit Judge

                                                                                    Primary Appellate Judge

 

                                                                                   

                                                           

                                                                                    __________________

                                                                                    Daniel D. Diskey

                                                                                    Circuit Judge

 

                                                                                    ______________________

                                                                                    Stanley R. Mills

                                                                                    Circuit Judge

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Copies furnished to:

William K. Eble, Esq.  

Alyssa A. Ruge, Esq.