EVERETT — A 41-year-old man convicted of animal cruelty for shooting his neighbor’s loose pit bull mix lost an appeal Monday.
A jury in Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett had found him guilty of first-degree animal cruelty. In September 2017, he was sentenced to 20 days behind bars.
In April 2016, the defendant saw the dog when he, his three children and his Pomeranian were down by the river outside Granite Falls. He went back to his house and grabbed a .22-caliber rifle. He stood between the dog and his kids and tried to “shoo” the dog away, he said, but she kept coming. Her tail was up.
According to court papers, there was no evidence that the dog appeared to be “menacing anyone or acting dangerous.”
The man shot the dog twice from about 15 feet away.
The owner heard the gunfire and the sounds of her dog, Lailay, yelping. She arrived to find the pit bull lying in a pool of blood.
The man, still standing nearby, said he was the one who shot the dog and told Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies the same. He didn’t think he did anything wrong, documents say.
He told law enforcement that he previously had seen the pit bull roaming around, chasing a deer with “seemingly lethal intent” and acting aggressively toward him and his Pomeranian.
He said a different pit bull had killed one of his dogs a year earlier.
Lailay had multiple puncture wounds, bullet fragments and a fractured leg. She survived the injuries, but needed a cast for a few months and almost lost her leg.
The defendant tried to overturn the conviction at the state Court of Appeals, saying that prosecutors didn’t do enough to prove that he acted unlawfully. The state didn’t look at other ways the shooting of an animal could have been lawful, like hunting, the defense said.
A three-judge panel dismissed the argument. During the trial the man only used self-defense to justify his actions, the judges wrote, so that’s how the jury made its decision.
Besides, other possible motives appeared absent in this case, they concluded.
“The circumstances clearly demonstrate that (the defendant) did not shoot the dog for food production, hunting, laboratory testing, ritual slaughter for religious purposes or any other lawful purpose,” they wrote.