Doctor faces battery charge month after dog attack on beach

VERO BEACH — Dermatologist Tim Ioannides has been charged with battery a month after his dogs attacked a couple walking along the ocean on South Beach.

The Vero Beach Police Department sent the victims’ complaint to the State Attorney’s Office for review, which signed off on probable cause and sent it to a judge who signed a warrant for the doctor’s arrest. Police spokesman Officer John Morrison said the police department gave Dr. Ioannides several opportunities to come into the station to give a statement regarding the incident but the doctor refused to do so.

“He has a right to do that,” Officer Morrison said. As a result, the file sent to the State Attorney’s Office only had the victims’ statements.

Officer Morrison said he believed Dr. Ioannides was arrested outside Indian River County on the warrant issued for misdemeanor battery but could not find in which county it was.

The charge was filed on Jan. 11 in response to the altercation between Dr. Ioannides’ dogs and a couple visiting from Niceville, Fla.

On Dec. 12, Ray and Suzanne Visser were walking on the beach when a pack of four German Shepherds and another, smaller, dog charged them, barking aggressively, the Vissers told our sister publication Vero Beach 32963 in December.

According to the Vissers, they armed themselves with a foot-long stick and Mrs. Visser’s beach shoes to protect themselves from the dogs. That’s when Dr. Ioannides ran up to the couple, yelling at them to not hit his dogs, an incident report states.

Mr. Visser told police that the “very strong man” rushed him, grabbed him and forced him into the ocean, restraining him for several minutes. All the while, the dogs circled Mrs. Visser, he husband said. The dogs’ owner, later identified as Dr. Ioannides, then left the scene with the dogs.

Mr. Visser called 911, borrowing a phone from a man who was hitting golf balls about 300 feet away, and reported the incident.

Authorities responded and identified Dr. Ioannides, who told them “that he let his dogs go on the beach as he always does. The dogs then ran up to the couple on the beach and surrounded them,” according to the incident report. He added that the dogs “were not going to bite them – they wanted to play.”

At the time, the responding officer reminded the doctor about the dog ordinance that prohibits dogs from the beach.

Dr. Ioannides is also facing a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit filed by a former doctor in the same dermatological practice in Martin County. The lawsuit is unrelated to the Vero Beach battery case.

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