A difficult situation for a pair of families on Whitewood Drive in the Town of Farmington as one neighbor shot a 3-pound Chihauhaua belonging to the family next door.
According to a release from the Washington County Sheriff the incident happened just after 9 a.m. on Wednesday after a 54-year-old Town of Farmington man, reported two dogs attacked his penned-up chickens in his back yard.
According to the statement from the Sheriff the man retrieved a single-shot pellet air rifle while the two sons attempted to chase the dogs away. The father gave the pellet gun to his juvenile son and when one of the dogs started growling by the man’s 6-year-old daughter the father told the boy to shoot and he killed the dog.
The family who owned the Chihuahua Gus is speaking out.
“Our dog had a shot through the chest and was dead,” said Erin Stonecipher, 23, the daughter of the owner of the dog.
“This was only a 2 to 3-pound dog. It was a baby, a puppy, a Chihuahua,” said Stonecipher. “The neighbors own a 65-pound pit bull as a family pet.”
During a one-on-one phone conversation Wednesday evening Stonecipher detailed how the dogs got out from the electric fence in her family’s yard.
“My mom, Lori, tried to call the dogs back into the house,” said Erin Stonecipher. “She drove around the subdivision and then saw the neighbors outside, stopped and asked them if they had seen our puppy and Bobby Minor said “Oh, Lori I’m sorry.”
“My mom got out of her car and saw our puppy dead in the driveway and became absolutely hysterical,” said Stonecipher.
“The owner of the home said, “Lori, we thought your dog was going to come after our chickens. I’m sorry I had to get the pellet gun,”” said Stonecipher.
The Stonecipher family has lived on Whitewood Drive for about 12 years. The neighbors know each other well.
“Their kids have been on our property and playing with our dogs,” said Stonecipher. “Our dogs have never ever been a threat.”
Stonecipher said her family is still trying to wrap its head around the situation and the loss of their pet.
“This was such a timid dog,” she said of Gus. “If you raised your voice or advanced toward him he’d cower; he was afraid of his own shadow.”
Stonecipher said “police did not interview my family.”
“As soon as we found the police report was published and it was one sided my parents decided we need to speak out. We were never questioned, nor were we equally represented,” said Stonecipher. “And it never said in the police report that this was a 3-pound puppy.”
According to the Sheriff the father told investigators he was fearful the dog is going to attack his daughter so he instructs his son to shoot at it. The son takes aim and shoots the dog and ends up killing the animal. The homeowner told investigators he thought the pellet gun would only injure the dog and cause it to retreat.
Investigating deputies reviewed Wisconsin State Statute 174.01 which reads that a person may intentionally kill a dog only if the person is threatened with serious bodily harm by the dog and other restraining actions were tried and failed, or immediate action is necessary.
Investigators also consulted with the Washington County District Attorney’s Office and concluded there was no violation.
The deceased dog was turned over to the owners who do not believe their dog would have acted in the described manner.
Photos courtesy Erin Stonecipher.