An Indiana man faces a felony charge of animal cruelty after police say he shot a hunting dog that ran onto his property.
Although it is legal to destroy a dangerous animal in the state, the arrest of Christopher Pollock illustrates the legal fact that a landowner can't shoot a dog just because it is somewhere it doesn't belong.
"There's no reason to kill an animal that is not harming anyone, just like a person," Indiana Conservation Officer Jonathon Boyd said. "If a person walks onto your property, you can't shoot that person."
Pollock, 37, was arrested Sunday night on a felony charge of animal cruelty and a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief.
The incident happened March 5 on private land in Milford, Ind., a farm town of 1,500 people about 55 miles northwest of Fort Wayne, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Kosciusko County Superior Court.
The property owner had given Jason Miller permission to hunt on the property. During the hunt, Miller's dog chased a coyote deeper into the woods.
The dog's GPS collar led Miller to land owned by a neighbor. Miller found his dog's body riddled with small-caliber bullet wounds and called police, court documents say.
An officer followed footprints in the snow from the dog's body to Pollock.
Pollock admitted that he shot the dog with a .22-caliber rifle, according to court records. Pollock told the officer the dog was barking.
He saw the collars and recognized it as a hunting dog, according to the records.
"Pollock further admitted that he had 'warned them' to keep their dogs off the property," state Conservation Officer Dustin Whitehead wrote in the court document.
The dog's name was not included in the court documents. The Indianapolis Star was unable to contact Miller.
Courts in other parts of the country also have sided with dog owners in cases like this.
In August, a jury ordered a family in Washington state to pay $100,000 in damages and attorney's fees for killing a neighbor's English springer spaniel, according to a Seattle Times report.
Hunting dogs are trained to chase game and don't recognize property lines, Boyd said.
"The dog was innocent in this situation," the state conservation officer said.
The courts view domesticated animals as property. However, many hunters view their dogs as more than faithful companions.
The animals are tools, just like their guns or bows and arrows. Hunters often invest thousands of dollars in training and equipment for their dogs.
Court documents didn't put a monetary value on Miller's dog. The dog's GPS collar and shock collar, both of which were destroyed with the gunshots, were valued at about $450.
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