July 25, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 29

Police let dog killer off the hook

It appears a Haines man who killed one dog and wounded another with a bow and arrow in January will not face any prosecution.

After weeks of deliberating on whether Haines Borough police could file a charge against the man under animal cruelty provisions in code, magistrate John Hutchins decided police had probable cause.

However, interim police chief Simon Ford has decided to drop it.

“We put a lot of resources into this case, and we’re at a point where I have to decide whether to invest a bunch more resources in this case or not. The nature of the court rules that I’ve learned about basically make it so that we would have to pay an attorney thousands of dollars to prosecute this case and maybe get a maximum $300 fine,” Ford said.

“I just feel that the limited resources that we do have are better spent on crimes against people,” he said.

Ford previously said he would seek a conviction under borough code after assistant district attorney Amy Williams declined to file state charges in early June, alluding to deficiencies in the investigation.

“You’ve got people beating up their wives and driving drunk and dogs running around. You have to prioritize that somewhere. If the dogs bite somebody, that becomes a really high priority. If they’re just running around, we deal with it as we’re able. It’s not the top priority,” Ford said.

The dogs, owned by Jeremiah Kinison and Shannon Thompson, 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.

Hutchins’ decision, penned July 18, said while police wanted to charge the defendant under one section of borough code, the defendant should be allowed to use another section of code to defend himself against the charge; namely, that he was defending another animal from immediate attack by the dogs.

Over the past three years, the defendant has repeatedly called police and the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel to complain about stray dogs on his property bothering his rabbits, Hutchins wrote.

“On at least one occasion, neighboring dogs have attacked and killed the defendant’s rabbits on his property... The defendant has expressed frustration over the lack of response from HARK and the Haines Police to his reports of the neighbors failing to control their dogs,” Hutchins continued.

“The defendant was angry and concerned for the safety of his rabbits, the dogs frequently entered his yard to molest them, and they killed them on one occasion. His repeated complaints fell on deaf ears of the owners of the dogs and the borough enforcement authorities,” Hutchins wrote.

On Jan. 13, one of the dogs shot with an arrow returned to its owner’s home with a rabbit pelt in its mouth. The defendant’s “frustration built to the point where he felt he had no choice but to take matters into his own hands,” Hutchins wrote.

When asked why police hadn’t cited Kinison or Thompson for letting their dogs run around the neighborhood, Ford said they had responded and cited them in the past. Court records show no citations against either owner.

Ford said while he recognizes his decision may strike a nerve with residents, the public response was more emotional than logical.

“The more I think about it the more I think the reason this is such a high-profile case is because it’s not that the offense was horrible. It’s that the sympathies of people have been affected,” he said.