WOODSTOCK – A 57-year-old Woodstock man could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for shooting his dog in the head after it bit him twice in two weeks.
Jurors convicted Kirk M. Locher, of 831 Washington St., of reckless discharge of a firearm and aggravated cruelty to an animal after deliberating for almost three hours Wednesday. Judge Michael Feetterer could sentence him to probation or to one to three years in prison at a hearing Aug. 25.
During Locher’s two-day trial, prosecutors said he leaned across his kitchen table after an evening of drinking whiskey and shot his 3-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Breeze. When police entered the home about 3 a.m. May 31, 2008, they found a pool of blood in the kitchen and the dog’s dead body covered in garbage in a garbage can.
Locher had awoken his wife and told her he was going to shoot the dog, which was 3 or 4 feet away from her at the time. She didn’t take him seriously until she saw the dog just after he had fired the revolver. She fled and called police about 1 a.m.
During closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, Locher’s attorney, Dan Hofmann, argued that the shooting was a legal euthanasia and that Locher’s wife never was in any danger.
Locher loaded the gun with a single bullet, pointed it toward the dog at a 45-degree angle, and shot the dog directly in the head.
“Donna [Locher] was never in any danger,” Hofmann told jurors. “You know that because what Kirk [Locher] intended to have occur, occurred.”
Hofmann argued that the dog became aggressive about a month before the shooting after Locher had to hold it down at the veterinarian’s office to have its nails trimmed. The dog growled and went after Donna Locher’s grandchildren, although adults stopped it, and bit Locher twice in two weeks.
The second bite happened just before the shooting and left a puncture wound on Locher’s thumb.
Prosecutors argued that shooting a gun inside a home after drinking whiskey was reckless and that Donna Locher’s reaction of fleeing the house showed she thought she was in danger.
They also argued that the shooting did not qualify as euthanasia because gunshot wounds are not a state-approved method of destroying dogs.
Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein argued that a loving pet owner would have taken a dog that had bitten twice to a trainer, a veterinarian, or Animal Control. Prosecutors argued that he acted out of anger.
“The only loud and aggressive one at the Locher house was the defendant,” Eisenstein said.