Man fatally shoots his dog; is this legal?

Police describe the dog owner as cooperative

BERLIN, NH (WMUR) – Online tips to police about a dog found shot in the woods led to an animal cruelty investigation. Police say a man shot his own dog claiming the animal was dangerous.

Commenters on Facebook were livid over the news but did the owner do anything wrong? The Berlin Police Department has been flooded with angry phone calls since Tuesday, when they got a call about a dog found shot to death in local woods.

“We responded to that location and did observe a dog with at least two gunshots in it,” said Lt. Dan Buteau of the Berlin Police Department.

As the story swirled on Facebook about the death of the white and brown mixed breed pup, police located its owner.

“He stated that the dog on a number of occasions had bitten a young child, I think three,” said Lt. Buteau.

Police say the owner first tried to give the dog away, via Facebook.

“Then he determined due to the dangerousness of the dog that it probably wasn’t the best option, and he decided to put the dog down himself,” said Lt. Buteau.

Police describe him as cooperative. It’s not clear why he didn’t go to a vet or shelter, but they say he was sad about the death. Part of their investigation researching statutes governing animal cruelty and euthanasia.

“It’s illegal to torture your animal or to whip your animal or any such thing that may be deemed as cruel under that statute. Under that particular statute it does not talk about putting a dog down, essentially, due to it being dangerous,” said Lt. Buteau.

Meantime, reaction on social media continues to grow. Something police say can both help and hurt.

“Hurt because of the misinformation that gets out there, and it just snowballs into something it’s really not. But helpful in that it does provide us some evidence, whether it’s timelines or whether it’s statements made, pictures posted or anything like that,” said Lt. Buteau.

Under the animal cruelty statute, the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Anyone found guilty could face a fine or possible jail time.

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