A French family’s American Dream to purchase a Satellite Beach grooming business was in peril the very first week when a contract employee on Feb. 25 allegedly abused a service dog, causing it to lose its tail and creating a negative social media storm.
James Suthann, 37 of South Patrick Shores was charged with felony 3rd degree Cruelty to Animals and was released on a $2,000 surety bond. If convicted he faces up to five years in jail plus a $5,000 fine.
The business, located at 575 Jackson Ave., was then called Groomingdales Pet Spa. New owner Nathalie Bremond recently changed the name to So Chic Grooming to help turn the page on the incident.
Bremond, who is learning English, notes that she was told by the previous owner Valarie Grove that Suthann was OK at his job and that he was contracted as a dog washer, not a groomer.
She emphatically stressed that had she known of any question in Suthann’s past, she would not have kept him on staff for even a day, she said.
“I love dogs,” she said.
“They are my cause. It’s like a bad dream, a bad dream that I cannot wake up from,’’ she added.
Bremond did not show lack of diligence because dog grooming businesses are unregulated in Florida, meaning that no background checks are required for any position including groomer, said Satellite Beach Community Development Director John Stone.
The Satellite Beach Business Tax Receipt (BTR) program (formally called a business license) only requires proof of license when a license is required by the county or state, which includes a background check as part of the licensing requirement, he said.
“The owner did not violate any city codes (because) her BTR was current,’’ he said.
“In my opinion state licensing could have prevented this situation because, as I understand it, this gentleman had a record that may have prevented licensing,’’ Stone said.
Brevard County booking records show that since 2012, Suthann has been arrested several times previously.’
The charges against him have ranged from criminal mischief to aggravated stalking and violation of a domestic violence protection order.
Any effort to change the licensing requirements would have to come from the county and state level, Stone said.
Bremond took up dog grooming after serving for 18 years as a non-commissioned officer in the French Army. Her husband is a police officer and they have two children, ages 15 and 16, who were going to attend Satellite High School.
The plans were for the family to be reunited after the grooming business got up and running.
Bremond said her husband loves the United States and that he is passionate about American sports.
Her son plays (American) football in France and her daughter would like to study makeup for special effects.
They chose the U.S. because they wanted to get away from the recent troubles in France. They chose Satellite Beach online because they don’t like living in the big city.
“Now I don’t know. I don’t have many customers. My children remain in France.
“I hope to stay at Satellite Beach and especially (so) that my family and my animals can join me because I miss (them) enormously.
“This project makes sense to me only if my family join me because I did all this for them,’’ she said.
A docket sounding on Suthann’s case will be held June 26 before Circuit Court Judge Morgan Reinman. Suthann’s family has retained Melbourne defense attorney Ernest Chang.
For the prosecution, assistant state attorney Jason Andersen is working on the case for State Attorney Phil Archer.