Bucs defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches vehemently denies allegations that he abandoned a dog on the side of a road last month.
Nunez-Roches and his wife, Tyrielle, released a statement through agent Jeff Nalley, explaining they had given away the Cane Corso Italian Mastiff named Jitterbug who ended up in a Florida shelter.
Nunez-Roches says in the statement the couple have received threats, prompting them to file a police report and hire an attorney.
“My wife and I have been breeding dogs since 2016-17 and all of the dogs we currently have are between 18 and 50 pounds. We specialize in Frenchies (French bulldogs) and Pocket American Bullies. We love our dogs and they are family to us. We’ve never had kids so we treat them like our kids. We spoil them and they all live inside our home with us. Making money from breeding dogs is not important to us because we are blessed to be fine financially from my NFL career. Since we started in 2016-17, we’ve only had two litters. Both litters were bred from requests from other people wanting puppies. We don’t have breedings every week or month like some breeders. We’re not in it to make money. We breed dogs because of the joy it brings to both the two of us and the families our dogs go to live with.
“Recently, a few animal rights individuals in Tampa began telling a story about us abandoning a Cane Corso on a road in Tampa that ended up in an animal shelter. First of all, the story is completely false. We would never abandon a dog. We were expecting our first baby, so we thought it would be safer to have only smaller dogs in the house. Jitterbug is a Cane Corso, which is an Italian Mastiff and not a pit bull as was incorrectly reported, and we gave her to a family that wanted one. We have no idea how she ended up in an animal shelter, but we absolutely did not and would never abandon her or any other dog. We have all of our dogs identified with microchips, so we’re guessing the animal shelter saw our name if they scanned Jitterbug. The family that adopted Jitterbug from the shelter reached out to us, and we have been talking and texting with them ever since. We provided the family with her vet records, food preferences, the commands she responds to, and they have sent us photos of her with their other Cane Corso.
“We are dog lovers and think it’s fantastic that there are so many groups out there that love dogs and animals too, but people need to do their homework before falsely accusing others. We love and have taken care of dogs for years, but because a few overzealous people mistakenly assumed we had abandoned a dog that was no longer ours, we have received threats and had our reputations smeared in the media. We are homebodies and quiet people and we don’t seek attention, but because a few people continue to smear our names without reason, we felt we had no choice but to set the record straight. Because of the threats our family has received, we had to hire a lawyer to contact the individuals who have been defaming us. We further filed a police report with the Tampa Police Department to make them aware of the individuals who have been threatening our family and moved to a different home because of the physical threats that were made against our family. Hopefully the groups who falsely accused us like Rescue Me Tampa and The Humane Society of the Nature Coast (both of which received cease and desist letters from our attorney) realize their mistake and we can all go back to living normal lives and taking care of our dogs and other pets.”