Friday, August 20, 2010

Charges are filed against an off-duty officer who shot and killed dog in park

SEVERN, Md. - Off duty federal police officer Keith Shepherd now faces two misdemeanors for the shooting death of Bear Bear the Siberian Husky.

It is a move Shepherd contests he had to make even as he called 911 moments after he pulled the trigger.
"I am an off duty federal police officer,” you hear Shepherd say on the 911 tape.
“I just discharged my weapon to a dog that was attacking my dog.”
“Did you kill the dog? asked the operator, “No,” Shepherd responded, “The dog is still alive. I shot it in the hip to keep it from attacking my dog."
The husky would later die and the investigation initially dismissed, which sparked a public outcry in Severn, MD.

Two weeks later now and the Anne Arundel State's Attorney has slapped Shepherd with an animal cruelty charge and discharging his weapon.

"My family and I are very pleased that charges were brought against the gentlemen in question," said Bear Bear’s owner Ryan Rettaliata.
Rettaliata was happy to hear the news today but in the end does little to help his loss.
"I don't have my dog. My wife doesn't want to come home. I don't want to come home. I mean when you come into this house by yourself, you know he is not there and you don't feel that presence."
But this story may not end in Severn with one animal. If County Executive John Leopold has his way, the bigger story will begin and end in Annapolis.

"We ought to look at stiffening the penalties for these animal cruelty charges and I've asked the office of law locally as well as the general assembly delegation to look at stiffening the penalties in the next session of the legislature."
Currently, the animal cruelty charge Shepherd faces carries 90 days in jail and a thousand dollar fine.

Leopold is asking lawmakers to toughen that penalty and hopes to have recommendations in the coming months.
All of that is positive but altogether meaningless to Rettaliata who is still mourning, struggling with the loss of his husky.
"When you commit that kind of passion and energy to something, it becomes part of you, and that part of us is missing."
A part no new law or penalty could ever replace.

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