Sheriff’s Office Audio Reveals Officers Decided About Donkey Running Loose

Posted on May 1, 2022 by Romi White

Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office (SRSO) has released audio from dispatch calls received April 12 related to a donkey, running loose on Deaton Bridge Road, which was put down by a livestock contractor, who was arrested in related to the incident. The calls seem to contradict a previous press release and social media post from the agency.
The previous press release stated: “Deputies responded to an animal complaint of a donkey roaming unattended on Deaton Bridge Road. Philip Hayes who is an independent livestock contractor was contacted for assistance. A short time later Hayes arrived, and our Deputy left the call. We later learned, the donkey was shot by Hayes and killed.”
However, calls released Friday by SRSO reveal the livestock contractor, Philip Hayes, called to ask permission from SRSO first. “Cause I ain’t gone do it without permission,” Hayes is clearly heard stating on the audio.
Hayes’ call was then patched through from SRSO to the cell phone of Lieutenant (Scott) Phillips; however, that portion of the call was not released. At this time it is unknown whether or not that part of the conversation was recorded.
Hayes claims he received permission from the SRSO Lieutenant before taking the action. In the audio he’s heard telling SRSO he was doing so not because someone would get hurt by the loose donkey but because the animal posed a “danger” to traffic on the road, where it had been running for an extended period of time.
Following is the audio of a caller asking why the donkey was shot. Subsequently, she was told by SRSO that “officers on scene decided.”

2:23 pm (54 seconds)

SRSO: Sheriff’s Office Hayley (sp?)
CALLER: Hi, I am calling in regards to the livestock situation on Deaton Bridge Road. Can I get some clarification as to why that donkey was shot instead of caught?
SRSO: Yes ma’am the livestock officer and the deputy on scene said that he was unable to get the donkey under control or contained.
CALLER: No (one) wanted to decide to try to even bring a trailer in or call one of the rescues in the area?
SRSO: No ma’am, that’s not what the officers on scene decided was the best course of action for that specific animal.

CALLER: Ok. Thank you.

Following is the audio in which Hayes asked permission before taking the action.

1:50 pm (29 seconds)

SRSO: Sheriff’s Office

CONTRACTOR: Hey, this is Philip, uh, livestock

SRSO: Yeah

CONTRACTOR: (Tell them) I’m fixing to go home. I need to talk to somebody. I’m fixing to pile this donkey up.

SRSO: **laughter** You’re **laughter** Ok what, what are you going to do with it?

CONTRACTOR: I ain’t got no way to (catch) it.

SRSO: Where did he live? That ain’t the first call we’ve had for that donkey, I don’t think.

CONTRACTOR: I know it. No, and that’s the trouble is he’s a danger. So, I’m just gone make the danger disappear. 

SRSO: **laughter** Well, I don’t wanna…ah, I don’t know what.

CONTRACTOR: No, you just can’t give me the…you just give me the lieutenant over this part.

SRSO: **laughter**

CONTRACTOR: Yeah, connect me to him. Cause I ain’t gone do it unless I get permission.

SRSO: Ok. 

CONTRACTOR: It won’t be the first one I did.

SRSO: All right. Hang on a second.

CONTRACTOR: Cause he ain’t worth $10.

SRSO: Ok, I’m going to have to put you out to the lieutenant there. 

CONTRACTOR: That’s fine. But most likely when I pull Henry out, the people will say oh no, no, no, no. Cause I got him contained but not completely contained. 

SRSO: Yeah, and somebody would get hurt with that donkey.

CONTRACTOR: Well, they ain’t gone get hurt with him.

SRSO: Let me, um…I’m gonna transfer you.

CONTRACTOR: But if he gets out on on that highway again he’ll kill somebody. 

SRSO: Yeah. I’m gonna transfer you over to Lieutenant Smith’s cell phone. Lt. Philips’ cell phone. He’s the lieutenant for Milton. So I’m going to transfer you now. If we get cut off or anything just call me back, ok?

CONTRACTOR: I will. Thank you.

SRSO: Yes sir. Transferring you now.

CALL ENDS BUT DISPATCHER CONTINUES TALKING: Yeah, he’s about to shoot the donkey. He’s got a talk to the Lieutenant before he does it. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to delays from SRSO in fulfilling this public records request, South Santa Rosa News sought and received assistance from the First Judicial State Attorney’s Office to ask the agency to comply with Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law in a timely manner.