Home Depot worker attacked by spider monkey in Okeechobee County

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - A Home Depot worker in Okeechobee County was bitten multiple times after a woman’s pet spider monkey escaped from her truck earlier this week.

The sheriff’s office said they were dispatched to the store, located at 2700 Highway 441 South, on Monday at 1:53 p.m.

The monkey’s owner, Tina Ballard, told a deputy that she left her pet in her truck on a leash while she went inside the store.

However, the spider monkey managed to escape the vehicle, attacking a female employee at the Home Depot.

The worker who was attacked, Marilyn Howard, told a deputy that she was taking a break outside the store when she heard some of her coworkers yelling about a monkey.

Jesse Martinez recorded video of the monkey on his cellphone.

According to the deputy’s report, Howard said she first thought it was a joke.  Later, she then spotted the spider monkey walking down the parking lot toward her with its leash still on.

"I reached down and she (the spider monkey) reached up and grabbed my hand, so gentle, so cute," Howard recalled.

Howard said she approached it and managed to grab it by the leash, but it climbed on her and bit her twice on the back.

The monkey then climbed down off of her, and she was able to grab it by its leash again and started walking it to the front of the store.

Apparently, the monkey wasn’t done with his hijinks.

When the store’s front door opened, Howard said the monkey got scared and attacked her again. This time she was bitten on the arm and hand and also scratched on the left side of her face.

"I cried for the first 24 hours not going to lie, vanity, God forgive me," she said. "But I'm getting over it. It will go away."

Howard refused medical treatment at the scene but told a deputy she would go to the hospital to be evaluated.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office said they contacted local animal control and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about the incident. 

FWC is investigating the case. No charges have been filed at this time. 

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