WEST PALM BEACH, FL-- A former NFL great, who shined as a quarterback, is playing defense. He spent Thursday afternoon at a hearing trying to protect his beloved pet which Palm Beach County calls dangerous.
With nearly the fervor and intensity he had in his days on the football field...Joe Namath vehemently defended his beloved yellow lab, Leo.
He blamed an episode in which the dog bit a home health care nurse, who mistakenly drove onto his Tequesta property, on the woman's refusal to listen.
"She continued to walk and I yelled stop," Namath said. "I said stay there, don't come any further. Then she turned around, took a step back and said 'he bit me.' "
In the past three years, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control says Namath's yellow lab, Leo, has bitten three people on three separate occasions: A UPS employee, a yard worker, and a home health care nurse who had the wrong address.
Namath says his dog is not aggressive- but very protective of Namath because, he says, of the constant public trespassing on his property.
"I get fired up, and my dogs infer that," Namath said. "What I feel, unfortunately, they feel."
Even with all his passion and his celebrity status county attorney Shannon Fox didn't back down. She looked the former football star in the eye and told him the law requires him to better restrain his animals.
"When she (the home health care worker) came onto the property, she was aggressively approached," said Fox. "Mr. Namath is encouraging the aggressive behavior."
Namath denied that and said he, "Does not enjoy seeing people have fear from dogs."
He also said the incidents could have been avoided if people would read the no trespassing signs.
Namath admits he has no gate surrounding his property, but he does have a canine invisible fence.
He says his dogs love people and children.
Still, in the end, the court disagreed.
"Although it's obvious you love your dogs, we need to declare Leo a dangerous dog," the judge ruled.
Although Leo has been declared a dangerous dog, it does not mean he will be taken away from Namath.
The court says it's going to work with the football legend to better secure his animals.
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