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