HARDEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Hardee County deputy has been fired after the sheriff’s office said it was made aware of videos showing “concerning behavior” toward animals at his business.

Nicholas Zotto, 29, was charged with animal cruelty, according to a news release from State Attorney Ed Brodsky’s office.

The termination came after videos were posted online that appeared to show Zotto’s “concerning behavior” toward a dog named Grizzly at his Manatee County business, Pawsome
Sitters. Zotto has also received a citation from Manatee County Animal Services.

“The Hardee County Sheriff’s Office is committed to upholding the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and service to our community,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “Deputy Zotto’s actions have fallen short of the ethical and moral standards we demand from all members of our law enforcement team.”

Zotto has been with the agency since April 2022, according to the sheriff’s office.

“This case underscores the dedication of the state attorney’s Office, the Manatee County Animal
Services, and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office in upholding the welfare of animals within our
community,” the state attorney’s office wrote in a statement. “The state attorney’s office is committed to ensuring justice is served in cases of animal cruelty and upholding the safety and welfare of all animals.”