A dead husky is at the center of a brewing feud between city neighbors.
The owner of the 2-year-old husky is outraged at authorities for not charging the man with animal cruelty; the other man says he was forced to shoot the dog to save his chickens, who were clucking about on his property July 20 when they were ambushed.
Meanwhile, authorities said Monday they’re wrapping up an investigation into the dog’s death but don’t expect to charge 62-year-old William Stock with animal cruelty or unlawful discharge of a weapon for shooting a neighbor’s dog on the evening of July 20.
Authorities said the shooting is justified because Stock was protecting chickens on his 352 West Hill Road property from an attacking husky that had cornered some in a coop.
State law protects owners who “kill any dog which he observes pursuing or worrying any such domestic animal or poultry” from being prosecuted.
“As far as animal control is concerned, we’re done with the case,” said Caitlin Nield, the animal control officer who handled the case.
The owner of the 2-year-old husky takes exception with authorities’ and the man’s accounts, saying his dog didn’t kill or maim any of Stock’s chickens.
“I’m completely outraged,” said 25-year-old Korey Johnson, owner of the 2-year-old malamute husky Zeus. “This dog has touched every person’s life. He is a big pile of love and wouldn’t hurt a soul.”
Stock said one of his 30 chickens is missing; it was likely dragged into a rural area near Stock’s home, which is situated on the Torrington and New Hartford town lines.
An animal control officer found a trail of feathers leading from Stock’s home; Acting Lt. Steve Rousseau, of Torrington police, said “chicken guts” were found on the property.
Johnson said his dog had separation anxiety after being uprooted from his home in Newfane, Vermont.
The dog was adjusting to life at Johnson’s parents 246 West Hill Road home. Johnson said the dog was with his parents while he went to his job as a bartender at a Farmington restaurant.
The dog was off its leash in the yard when it suddenly bolted around 6:30 p.m. on July 20. About 20 minutes later, Johnson said, his sister heard five shots ring out.
Johnson’s mother found the dog’s bullet-riddled body early the next morning.
Zeus was lying in a pile of leaves near a wooded area, yards from Stock’s home.
Johnson claims his dog was found facing away from Stock’s home, in a position that he believes means Zeus was retreating, and was chased and viciously shot by at least five rounds from Stock’s .40-caliber semiautomatic gun.
“He kind of bit the dust as he was running,” Johnson said.
Police would only say the dog was shot more than once; Stock declined to say how many rounds he let off.
Stock was visited last week by Torrington animal control and police detectives, who were looking into the events of the dog’s death. He told them he has had to ward of predatory animals in the past and mistook the husky for a coyote.
Stock said he was never asked by police to produce the weapon or registration that says he legally owns the firearm. He said he would show it to police if they ask, but declined to show it to a Register Citizen reporter.
Stock said he didn’t know the owner of the dog but wants to write a letter apologizing for the tragic outcome. He said he planned to contact Johnson in the future once he digests the death.
“I feel terrible about shooting that dog,” he said. “I never would have shot it if I knew it was a dog. But it was attacking my chickens and I had to protect my chickens. It’s very unfortunate.”
Johnson was still aggravated Monday. He said he doesn’t understand the police department’s decision not to bring charges against Stock, especially since he has chickens illegally on his property.
Stock’s home is in a rural stretch of Torrington, a stone’s throw away from the New Hartford town line, But since it’s on the Torrington side of the divide, he must obey city ordinances that allow chickens only on properties with three or more acres.
According to town records, Stock’s home sits on an acre.
Rista Malanca, the city’s Zoning, Inland and Wetlands officer, said Stock was sent a warning in the mail July 21 informing him he has to get rid of the chickens immediately.
Stock said he plans to sell the chickens to a friend this week.
Homeowners have a grace period to comply with the city’s ordinance, Malanca said. After a month, the city can fine homeowners $150 a day.
Johnson said he was unnecessarily forced to bury his dog in his parents backyard. He said the dog had a collar that “jingled like a bell” and should have immediately alerted Stock it was a pet.
Stock said he acted on “reflex” and didn’t fire off a warning shot, adding the situation evolved quickly.
Unsatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, Johnson said authorities didn’t examine the case with “great scrutiny.”
“You have people with guns with happy trigger fingers,” he said. “This guy put five bullets into a domestic animal without thinking twice about it.”
Rousseau defended police’s investigation and said evidence vindicated Stock.
“There was plenty of evidence on the ground,” he said.