EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 11, 2013

No charges against man who shot neighbor's dog

By Alex Lippa

---- — HAMPSTEAD — Police said a West Road resident who shot and killed his neighbor’s dog won’t face any charges.

Christopher Gibbons of 305 West Road told police he shot the dog when it entered his back yard and was terrifying his caged rabbits.

Judy and Fred Galietta owned Sadie, the 6-year-old Brittany spaniel.

Judy Galietta had let the pet out Saturday morning. A few minutes later, she said, she heard the commotion.

All of a sudden, I heard her yip twice,” she said. “I could tell it was by the next house. I ran over and yelled at the top of my lungs. Then I heard two gunshots in a row. When I got to her, I knew she was dead.”

Gibbons told police he shot Sadie from his bathroom window because the dog was circling the rabbit cage in his back yard, trying to kill his rabbits.

He said he yelled at the dog and fired a warning shot, but she didn’t respond, according to Lt. John Frazier. Gibbons told police he shot Sadie once in the chest with a .223-caliber AR-15 rifle.

The Galiettas wanted to press charges against Gibbons, but police determined he hadn’t broken the law.

“Based on the statements we took, Gibbons is not criminally liable,” Frazier said.

State statute says “any person may kill a dog that is found out of the enclosure or immediate care of its owner or keeper worrying, wounding or killing, sheep, lambs, fowl or other domestic animals.”

“I am not upset with the police, but I am upset with the law,” Judy Galietta said. “I am going to work to get the law changed.”

She said the term “worrying” is too vague and shouldn’t apply to situations like the one with Sadie.

“I just hope that we can change the wording,” Galietta said. “If the rabbit was in her mouth, then I think he had every right to shoot her, but it wasn’t.”

Galietta said Sadie had never had any problems with anyone before.

“She was a loving dog,” she said. “Not one person can say she heard her growl or show her teeth. Kids in the neighborhood would always come over and play with her.”