- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The shooting death of a puppy in the Fairbanks area has ignited community outcry as residents who have had similar experiences with their pets question authorities’ response to the incidents.

Dan Powell told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/29RcvMV) that he let his dog out to use the bathroom in the early morning on July 2 when it went missing. After searching his neighborhood, he came home to find Lucy shot dead.

“I’d only been away from the house 10 minutes or so. There’s not a whole lot of road there, and I just drove around in a circle. She was dead there in the road right at the end of my driveway,” Powell said.

Powell took to a community Facebook page to share the incident with others, who reported similar stories about their dogs going missing and being shot. Many also expressed outrage that Alaska State Troopers weren’t investigating the incident.

Goldstream Community group member Mara Bee posted a letter that she said would be sent to troopers, Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly members and Animal Control.

“Someone who demonstrates this kind of total disregard for a dog, who objectifies it into something simply to be used for target practice, is exactly the type of person we do not want in our community, town, or state,” Bee said in the letter.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said a review of Lucy’s death indicated that there was no evidence for a criminal case because simply shooting a dog and killing it “is technically not against the animal cruelty statute.”

Alaska law defines animal cruelty as killing or injuring an animal with poison or a decompression chamber; killing or injuring an animal with the intent to terrorize, threaten or intimidate another person; knowingly inflicting severe or prolonged physical pain or suffering on an animal; or causing death or severe physical pain and suffering through neglecting to care for an animal.

“When it comes to an animal’s death, certainly we understand that people love their animals, but what people think should be against the law and what actually is against the law are two different things,” Peters said.

A group of about 40 concerned community members organized a meeting to discuss the issue Sunday. Trooper Scott McAfee, Rep. Dave Guttenberg and Fairbanks North Star Borough Director of Emergency Services Director David Gibbs joined the group.

McAffee urged residents to keep their dogs secured “as best you can” and said he’d continue to monitor the situation.

“If things continue to happen and we can tie it to others, then maybe we can establish a crime in this case,” McAfee said. “The reality of how the law’s set up, it is our responsibility as dog owners to keep our dogs secure.”

Guttenberg praised the residents for a “big first effort” and encouraged them to continue.

“At the end of the day it’s the community taking control, putting up signs and letting people know you’re watching,” Guttenberg said. “It’s peer pressure and how you deal with the bad actors in your community.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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