Bucs' Rakeem Nunez-Roches Denies Abandoning Dog After Receiving Threats

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (56) reacts against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Jason Behnken/Associated Press

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches has denied allegations that he abandoned his dog. 

"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," he and his wife Tyrielle said in a statement, via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. "We would never abandon a dog."

As Nunez-Roches explained, he and Tyrielle gave away Jitterbug, an Italian Mastiff, to another family in preparation for the couple's first child. The dog somehow ended up on the side of the road, but he was taken in by an animal shelter and adopted by a new family.

The NFL player, who also breeds dogs, said he's communicated with the new family about medical information and the pet's overall preferences.

An animal rescue group first found the dog, who was on the side of a busy road for 36 hours, on Dec. 8, per TMZ Sports. The shelter said it notified Nunez-Roches to pick up his pet, but he never did.

The Buccaneers were reportedly investigating the incident.

However, Nunez-Roches said the allegations were false and he's been receiving "physical threats" against his family.

"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," he said.

He's notified the police about the threats and his family has since moved.

The 26-year-old has spent five years in the NFL, the last two with the Buccaneers after playing three years with the Kansas City Chiefs. He appeared in all 16 games in 2019, totaling nine tackles.