February 10, 2016

Cass County man found guilty of animal abuse in shooting of dog

A southwest Iowa man was convicted of animal abuse charges on Tuesday afternoon after he fatally shot a dog on his property in December of last year. Fifty-six-year-old Charles Collins Cutler, of Marne, testified he left his garage to find two dogs on the sidewalk leading up to the steps of his deck where his cats were located.

Culter said: “I gave the oral command, ‘get,’ as I was trying to muster up as much strength as I could to make the dogs leave because I couldn’t get past them going to my deck to get in the house.” He says the dogs barked and growled so he returned to the garage, loaded a shotgun, went back out and ordered the dogs to leave.

One dog went away but Cutler shot the other one, as he felt threatened. The dog was owned by Stacy Ernat, of Denver, Colorado, who was passing through town. The 18-month-old chocolate Labrador was taken to a vet and died within 30 minutes.

After the guilty verdict, Ernat spoke with reporters. “It sends the message that it is absolutely not okay for people to abuse animals,” Ernat says. “Iowa ranks at the bottom of the list out of 50 states for animal rights, animal abuse, all those kinds of laws. I hope people just realize that it’s not okay.”

The Cass County District Court jury ruled Cutler did not have the right to shoot a collared and licensed dog, because under Iowa law, the animal was not chasing, maiming or killing another domestic animal or attacking or attempting to bite a person. Cutler faces up to two years in prison and a fine not to exceed $6,250 when he’s sentenced next month.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic

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