Man Acquitted After Shooting His Three Dogs

Warning: This story may disturb some readers.

A Pennsylvania man has been acquitted on animal cruelty charges after he shot and killed his three dogs in December 2006.

Arnold Wheeler said he shot his dogs because he no longer could care for them and was unable to spay/neuter them or have them euthanized. He said that he also couldn’t find anyone to take care of the dogs.

The jury acquitted Wheeler on the cruelty charges and he was convicted of scattering rubbish for dumping the dogs’ bodies off of a road. For the dumping conviction, Wheeler has been fined $200 and has been given a 30 day prison sentence.

Pennsylvania law allows owners to shoot their pets, but there are no clear guidelines on what is humane and what is cruel when the owner uses a gun on their pet.

Prosecutors said Wheeler was cruel because the dogs suffered and he didn’t research alternatives before shooting them.

According to testimony, he used a rifle to fire eight shoots among the three dogs. One of the dogs was even chained up when shot.

Wheeler stated that he loved and tried to take care of the dogs as best as he could, but he said he didn’t have the means to take care of all of them. He tried to give away as many dogs as he could and said he went to various SPCA offices and was told that they didn’t have room and couldn’t take the dogs.

A witness for the prosecution, a SPCA employee, said that the agency never refuses dogs even if it is over-populated.

Wheeler said shooting the dogs was the most humane way he could think of to get rid of them.

The defense attorney stated, “Nothing in Mr. Wheeler’s actions suggests cruelty. If the law allows an owner to shoot their pet, then he shouldn’t be found guilty of cruelty for doing so.”

Many animal lovers and dog rescue volunteers said they are extremely disappointed in the verdict, but they hope that this case will draw attention and demand a change in the state’s law on the use of guns to kill pets.

Source: Pocono Record

20 Responses to “Man Acquitted After Shooting His Three Dogs”

  1. G in INdiana says:

    Methinks PA needs to change it’s laws if it wants to be able to prosecute people for cruelty when shooting pets.
    Look for more of this due to the economic fall out (subprime/ARM mortgage fiasco) and downturn in the general economy. Any fool who thinks we are not already in a recession has rose colored glasses on.
    This is just the tip of the iceberg, what with suburbanites leaving pets inside foreclosed houses, rural folks letting horses loose into strange pastures, and people just dumping off animals where ever they can.

  2. Lynne says:

    Wow, what does Pennsylvania do with unwanted kids? And G, I agree with you. I’ve been in a recession for about 10 years now. I fully expect the U.S. to experience another Depression.

  3. catmom5 says:

    I really do not believe that there wasn’t an agency willing to take the dogs in ~ if only to euthanize them. Sorry but that guy’s story doesn’t ring true to me. (I bet there would have been a vet who would have euthanized if he/she had known that the owner was going to shoot them.)
    Agree that the laws need to change. It should not be legal to shoot dogs PERIOD!
    I feel so bad for those poor dogs ~ to be killed by the person who had cared for them, someone they probably loved and trusted. What a tragic situation.

  4. Nancy G. says:

    Unfortunately this is a common way of getting rid of unwanted dogs in many rural areas. My sister in Tenn, has a Great Pyrenees she saved from the same fate, the owner just no longer wanted the dog and they have no real animal shelter where she lives. It’s either shoot them or drive out and dump them somewhere, they don’t want to pay [or cannot afford] the cost of a humane euthanasia. My sister also has several other dogs that showed up as strays, no doubt taken out and dumped by people.

  5. Nancy says:

    I am appalled by the overwhelming ignorance demonstrated by this man in every aspect of this story. From getting the dogs to breed for profit, allowing them to run loose and breed at will, choosing to shoot them at all, and then shooting them in such a way that they suffered horribly, all topped off by his dumping them like garbage. His actions were bad enough, but made that much worse by the comments he made in defense of his actions: using a low caliber so the kids wouldn’t see a “big mess” when he shot the dogs, then didn’t want the other dogs to dig up the bodies and “nibble” on them?! It is ifficult to understand how a person can be so totally devoid of humanity.

    PA does need to reconsider its position on shooting dogs, which can not be considered humane in this day and age of painless euthanasia. It must also be said that PA shelters are too often guilty of turning away people when they need to surrender their pets. This sickening situation would not have occurred if the shelter had done it’s job and taken in these dogs when they were asked to.

  6. KAEfamily says:

    it’s PA, what do we expect?!!

  7. shibadiva says:

    Too bad there isn’t a law against gross stupidity.

    KAEfamily, yep, the folks in Lancaster County churn them out at quite a clip too, so they can be shot or dumped later.

  8. kathy says:

    I hope that man feels sick for a long long time.

  9. janet says:

    Pennsylvania used to allow a pigeon shoot, they would release them and let kids shoot them for target practice, then they’d throw the dying birds into a dumpster, it was a great family day and lots of fun. I don’t know if this is still allowed there, I have signed many petitions to outlaw this disgusting practice. As for shooting the dogs, I hope this guy rots in hell!

  10. nancy says:

    Hey! Of course, the guy has kids….all these lowlives reproduce….especially if they can’t afford it! And what did the judge think of the SPCA’s statement that they never turn dogs away? That this group was lying? Thank goodness I live in Illinois, the state of graft and corruption!

  11. The Lioness says:

    Yup. I hope more folks in PA will step up and demand a change in the laws.

    There is a lot that is screwy about this story.


    ~The Lioness

  12. Sylvia says:

    OHMYGOD………..this is insane - the “man” who did this should be taken out and shot - the state that allows this should be deeply ashamed even af ter thay change their laws - disgusting

  13. joanne ventresca says:

    I am very ashamed to admit that I’m from PA also - however, this bastard is lying through his teeth and the judge/jury were stupid enough to buy his crap! All the had to do was take them to the animal shelter - that’s what they are for. They are not allowed to refuse to take in the dogs. Yes, they probably would have been killed anyway, but at least they would not have been shot by their own owner. This is making me physically ill just thinking that this freak is free rather than rotting in jail which is where I would have put him.

  14. Bane says:

    Pennyslvania allows people to shoot pets? That is one sick state…I will never set foot there. I had a friend who lived there briefly…hated it…said the people were nasty as all get out. Not surprising they have so little regard for innocent life.

  15. stefani says:

    This is sick. So, should people be able to shoot their children if they decide they don’t have enough resources (time or money or just will) to take care of them? How about their elderly parents?


  16. Sharon says:

    Pennsylvania’s officials should be more concerned with the action of people being allowed to shoot their pets as ANIMAL CRUELTY than they are about tail docking. All the emphasis they are trying to place on tail docking and pushing through a new law to prohibit this due to “animal cruelty” seems to be EXTREMELY HYPOCRITICAL when they allow in their laws the right for owners to shoot their pets in such a manor as being tied up!! Something is definitely wrong with their priorities!!!

  17. Nancy says:

    I thought the same thing, Sharon, and said as much to our state dog warden. The days of having to shoot dogs to “put them out of their misery” are long OVER, and the PA officials need to recognize that fact. The tail docking issue does not even come close to being as cruel as shooting dogs; and for what, to save a few bucks at the vet for euthanasia or making a trip to the shelter? I think the intent of that tail docking legislation is to stop the big commercial kennels from vetting their own dogs inappropriately. But, as long as they are looking at revising dog law, I think they would do well to include shooting dogs under the heading of animal cruelty.

    To those judging the residents of the entire state of PA by this situation, shame on you. Our dog laws may need some amendment, but most of the citizenry are wonderful people who love their pets and take wonderful care of them.

  18. Jennifer from PA says:

    It is the law because a majority of PA is rural and thats just the law here. This man’s dogs were dumped and found mutilated. I think the jury was relieved to find that this man didn’t mutilate, just shoot the dogs.

    And our SPCA did turn an aquaintance of mine away when she went to drop off her dog. She got terrible news, and had to part ways with her dog, brought it to the SPCA with bags of dog food and a donation, and they took the donations but turned the dog away.

    PA has no real humane animal protection. We need a legistlature that values all walks of life in this state.

    p.s. Bane - we aren’t all nasty. keep your comments on topic, k?

  19. Nancy says:

    For those who would like to “do” something about PA Dog Law Enforcement, you might want to submit your comments to the PA Department of Agriculture.

  20. Jason says:

    If it is killed quickly, I see no reason why killing one’s pet should be illegal. It’s an animal not a human. That said, I’m sure some place would take the dogs (even if they’d just kill them later.) A .22 is the cheapest and least cruel way to euthanize an animal.

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