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North Fort Myers woman arrested for animal cruelty at Sarasota grooming business

Diana Stevens is accused of beating, shaking and throwing animals.
Diana Stevens
Posted at 12:19 PM, Mar 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 12:25:36-04


The Sarasota Police Department arrested a North Fort Myers woman, accused of animal cruelty and abuse.

Police say Diana Stevens owned Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming Sarasota at 1129 S. Tamiami Trail. Detectives were interviewing former employees about an financial crimes investigation from August 2023 when they discovered animal abuse allegations.

One witness told police Stevens would smack and hit dogs and cats. Stevens allegedly would jerk cats around, flip them over and tether them while being groomed, which the witness said is dangerous because their neck can break.

That same witness told police Stevens would grab dogs by their scruff and be aggressive with them. At one point, the witness said dog owners complained their animals were acting differently when they got home.

Other former employees said Stevens and others witness bought French Bulldog puppies to sell. The witness said they were kept in unsanitary conditions and left alone at the shop overnight. One puppy died and the witness said Stevens put the dog in a box and kept it at the store until she "did something with it."

Two other former employees told police about several different incidents of abuse including beating a dog, cursing at it, shaking a cat and slamming another into a table.

Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming is based in Orlando and an employee told detectives they had received several complaints from other employees of Stevens abusing the animals.

Fox 4 reached out to the company, asking why they had not taken immediate action once the allegations were received. They provided a statement:

The allegations against Ms. Stevens, a former franchisee who independently owned and operated one location in Sarasota, violate every tenant of our mission at Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming, as well as our stringent operating procedures.

Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming has a zero-tolerance policy for abuse of any kind. We want to make it clear that Woof Gang does not condone, tolerate, or in any way endorse such behavior. While we can not comment on the specifics of the police investigation, we can confirm that we were contacted by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department and took immediate action to terminate Ms. Stevens’ franchise agreement. This location is no longer authorized to operate as a Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming location and is currently in the process of being unbranded.

We emphasize that all Woof Gang locations are independently owned and operated. This incident is not reflective of our brand, our franchise owners, or the high standards of love and care for pets that Woof Gang represents across all other locations.

As fellow pet owners, we are devoted to the spirit and bond we share with our pets and have always made health and safety our top priority. Our thoughts are with the community and, most importantly, the pets and pet owners involved.
Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming

Sarasota Police arrested Stevens on March 8 for 10 animal cruelty charges.

Police believe there are more victims, and the pet owners are asked to call Sarasota Police to report the abuse.

When asked if Sarasota Police coordinated any sort of search of the woman's North Fort Myers home with the Lee County Sheriff's Office, a spokesperson said no.

According to Lee County Jail records, Stevens has been arrested for burglary, grand theft, vehicle theft, larceny and battery over the past 10 years.