OKEECHOBEE, Florida — Don’t mess with the monkey.
A Florida woman has been arrested for negligence after her pet spider monkey attacked employees at a Home Depot on more than one occasion.
Police from Okeechobee County had to track Tina Ballard down to North Carolina where she fled with the monkey, named Spanky, in an effort to ensure it was not taken by animal protection agents. The monkey was with her in her car when she arrested, cops said.
The first monkey attack occurred while Ballard was shopping at Home Depot on May 27 and her monkey bit an employee. The incident was not immediately reported but came to light following a second incident on June 4, when the animal escaped from a truck in the parking lot and bit a woman on her back.
Ballard told store employees after the first incident that Spanky “just wanted a hug and to play.”
Investigators initially cited Ballard for failing to constrain the animal properly, resulting in an injury. She now faces seven charges, including two for negligence for putting the public at risk.
But after fleeing to North Carolina with Spanky, Ballard faces a felony charge of tampering with evidence. Assistant State Attorney Ashley Albright said Ballard fled to North Carolina to avoid a court hearing.
“She had sent an email to the investigating officer stating that she was aware of the hearing and she was fleeing to North Carolina in order to hide the monkey so that state officials could not take that monkey from her,” Albright said, according to WPBF-TV.
After Ballard’s arrest, police said her daughter’s boyfriend came to temporarily retrieve the monkey. The monkey will be sent to live at a primate sanctuary.