Small dog suffers collapsed lung, displaced heart after homeless man kicks her 15 feet into the air

A small dog named Sophie suffered a collapsed lung and displaced heart when a homeless man snuck up behind her and kicked her 15 feet into the air at a California beach.

Dylan McTaggart, 25, was booked into Ventura County Jail on suspicion of fighting in public, assaulting a lifeguard and felony animal cruelty. He was held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

The incident happened on Friday around 1:57 p.m. at Hueneme Beach in Port Hueneme, California.

Port Hueneme police received a call regarding a person disturbing the peace and getting into an altercation with local lifeguards. When officers arrived to a parking lot along the beach, McTaggart fled the scene, authorities said.

After a short foot chase, McTaggart was taken into custody.

During the investigation, police learned that McTaggart came up behind a woman and her dog Sophie. Without warning, he kicked Sophie about 15 feet in the air, authorities said. Sophie was kicked so hard that she suffered the collapsed lung and displaced heart.

Sophie is recovering at home with her owner, authorities said.

Authorities said McTaggart is a homeless man who lives in an illegal homeless encampment along Ormond Beach in the neighboring town of Oxnard.

Police have encountered McTaggart “numerous times” for bothering beachgoers along Hueneme Beach, according to a press release. A records check indicated that he was on probation for assaulting officers and shoplifting. He is also a registered sex offender, police said.

As a way to protect beachgoers from people who might disturb the peace, extra patrols along the area were set up. Police said calls specifically for homeless people disturbing the peace at the beach and in the small city have doubled since 2018.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.