A family in rural Princeton, Minnesota, is in shock after finding their two dogs dead in their neighbor's driveway. The incident occurred on Friday, March 31, in a wooded, remote neighborhood. Kim Othoudt recounted that on that Friday afternoon, her daughter Libby let their two dogs, a 4-year-old mini Australian Shepherd named Jack, and an 8-month-old Golden Retriever named Winston, out of the house. However, by dinnertime, the dogs had not returned home. Kim and her family went out to search for the dogs and found them dead around the corner from their house in their neighbor's driveway.
According to Sherburne County investigators, the neighbor reported that the dogs had been chasing deer on his property, and when he went outside to yell at them, the dogs started coming towards him. The neighbor admitted to shooting at the dogs to scare them, and the dogs died from the gunshot wounds. However, the Othoudt family believes that their neighbor could have handled the situation differently, such as by calling the police, the pound, or notifying the family.
The family has received support from loved ones and intends to file a civil complaint against their neighbor at the Sherburne County Government Center. Kim Othoudt hopes that her actions set an example for her children, saying, "I want them to know like stand up for what you think's right. This is very uncomfortable for me, but I'm doing it because I think it's the right thing to do."
Animal shootings are a sensitive and emotional topic, and the incident in Princeton is not the first case of a dog being shot dead. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, from 2007 to 2012, about 356,000 dogs were shot by police officers. While it is understandable that dogs can cause property damage or become aggressive towards strangers, shooting should be the last resort. The Humane Society of the United States recommends non-lethal methods such as pepper spray, air horns, or water hoses to deter dogs.
Furthermore, killing someone else's pets is illegal in many states, and pet owners can file criminal or civil charges against the shooter. In Minnesota, shooting a pet is considered a misdemeanor, and the shooter can be charged with animal cruelty or reckless discharge of a firearm. Pet owners can also seek compensation for the loss of their pets, including vet bills, replacement costs, and emotional damages.