January 31, 2013 | Volume 43, No. 4

Police retrieve bow in dog-shooting case

The Haines Police Department served two search warrants last week and recovered items believed to have been used in the Jan. 15 killing of a dog and wounding of another.

Police seized a bow and other materials during two searches of a residence, police chief Gary Lowe said. Police served the first warrant early last week and the second a few days later.

“You have to have probable cause to get a search warrant. So if you get probable cause for one thing, maybe while you’re there you get information to lead you to get probable cause for something else,” Lowe said.

Police said the dogs were shot in a wooded area north of View Street, between Lynnview Drive and Fourth Avenue. One dog returned home with an arrow through its belly and later died; the other survived despite an arrow lodged into its scalp.

All materials, including the arrows recovered from the dogs’ bodies, were sent to the state crime lab for forensic analysis. Lowe wouldn’t say what other items officers collected.

Trooper Ken VanSpronsen said he spoke with Lowe and understands Lowe is asking the crime lab to perform a forensic test to see if the arrows found in the dogs were shot from the seized bow. VanSpronsen said this kind of test almost always yields no results, as a bow and arrow don’t reveal a unique connection the same way a gun and bullet do.

Lowe said lab results usually take between several weeks to several months to arrive. He does not intend to file charges until the results come in. “We probably will wait just so we have all the facts. If we get absolutely nothing from the crime lab, it’s possible charges could still be filed,” he said.

Possible charges include criminal mischief in the third degree, a felony, or cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor, Lowe said. Third-degree criminal mischief occurs when a person damages the property of another in the amount of $500 or more, and Lowe said the vet bills for the dogs could be used to prove that amount.

VanSpronsen said it may be difficult to convict on either charge. Vet bills, he said, would likely be inadmissible, as the property damage amount is calculated by cost of replacement, not repair.

It’s also difficult to get animal cruelty charges to stick, VanSpronsen said, as the prosecution must prove intent to inflict “severe and prolonged physical pain or suffering.”

Lowe said he’s being tight-lipped about the investigation because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his ability to secure a conviction. “I have to build a criminal case and there’s information that only a couple people know, the suspect being one of them. And I don’t want to give him everything that I’ve got,” Lowe said.

The investigation has brought up the possibility that the suspect was defending his property by shooting the dogs, and police are asking anyone with information confirming that version of events to come forward.

A reward for information leading to arrest and indictment stands at $800.