A man who shot and killed his neighbors’ dog must serve a year and a half probation — with no guns and no contact with those neighbors, who still live next door — a judge ruled.
David H. Herren, 67, of rural Lawrence, was sentenced Friday in Douglas County District Court.
Last month a jury convicted him of one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty for killing the dog, but not maliciously.
Herren was accused of killing the dog with a pellet gun Sept. 28, 2016. The neighbors previously testified they found their Brittany spaniel, Arlo, dead that morning outside their home in the 1700 block of East 1318 Road, just north of Lawrence.
Herren told the court he took responsibility for the dog’s death.
“I value life immensely, and I feel horrible about this dog every day,” he said. “I’m so sorry it all happened. It was a horrible accident.”
Herren also said the neighbors should bear some responsibility for letting the animal run loose repeatedly on his property, which he said precipitated the shooting.
Judge Peggy Kittel said she appreciated Herren’s apology but, after hearing evidence at his trial, still didn’t buy his explanation that the dog’s death was an accident.
Herren had bad eyesight, yet pointed a gun and fired at a dog that was doing nothing more than digging or defecating in his yard, Kittel said. She said most people could relate to similar problems with neighbors’ pets.
“But the answer is not to run out there with a gun and shoot it,” the judge said. “As you said, it’s not the dog’s fault — and yet you killed it.”
Kittel said she was concerned that Herren had “an anger issue” — displayed toward law enforcement and during his blaming the neighbors for the dog’s roaming — and was not dealing with it in an appropriate way. She said she also was concerned because the neighbors had children and one of them discovered the dog dead.
Kittel said that is why the conditions of Herren’s probation are in place, particularly that he not have any firearms, including BB or air guns.
“That just gives the neighbors a little more assurance that you will not be in possession of any firearms,” she said.
If Herren violates his probation, he must serve his underlying sentence of a year in jail, Kittel said.