Reno Yohai, Arguably South Florida's Worst Dog Owner, Keeps 34 Caged Pit Bulls In Fetid Home
Born in Havana in 1947, he came to the United States soon after and settled with his mother in a Manhattan apartment. His mom, he remembers, "was deathly afraid of dogs and cats" and neither allowed pets inside the cramped quarters nor for Yohai to visit homes with animals. The boy was lonely for more family. "My entire family was down in Florida, so after I graduated from the University of Bridgeport [Connecticut], we came down here to be with them."
As soon as he arrived, he took contract work tiling floors. And though that's been his primary source of income through the years, he's supported himself in other ways as well. In 1972, while maintaining what he calls "a spiritually and morally bankrupt lifestyle," he was charged in Miami court with a felony count of intent to sell marijuana. (Adjudication was withheld.)
Also around that time, he took in his first pit bulls. They captivated him. "And this was when Warlock came into my life," Yohai recalls. "My great dog."
One night soon after, in the early '80s, his mother broke her hip and moved into his Davie home. "I watched that dog melt 80 years of [my mom's] canine phobia," he says. "I saw Warlock come gently up to her and lay his head on her lap. And, slowly, she reached out and put her hand on his head. She became completely dependent on that dog for her security, and from then on, I've lived in service of the breed."
But in 1992, he lost contact with the animals. That year, he was arrested on charges of sexual battery of a minor. "It's not something I'm proud of," Yohai says. "It was one drunken night in my life 20 years ago."
The police report is more specific. According to an arrest affidavit filed into evidence that year, Yohai, who was then 45, lavished a 16-year-old girl with money and jewelry and encouraged her to become a stripper. "He took her into a bedroom and had her try on two teddy outfits to wear while dancing," the affidavit says. He then served her beer and marijuana, and he videotaped her dancing naked on the coffee table. He showed her footage of him having sex with another girl, who appeared to be 16 or 17. Afterward, the girl fell asleep, and she awoke to find Yohai "holding her shoulders down on the couch and kissing her on the face and mouth," the affidavit states.
What police found in Yohai's possession was horrifying: eight pit bulls, guns, cocaine, camera equipment, and roughly 100 explicit videotapes -- two of which depicted dancing girls. The residence, also home to Yohai's 81-year-old "invalid" mother and an infant, reeked. "It was deplorable," police spokesperson Bonnie Wilbanks told the Sun-Sentinel at the time. "The odor was so bad that myself and my detectives went out from time to time to get fresh air."