Niles man faces charges after shooting dog

Published 12:13 am Saturday, March 11, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – A local man facing multiple charges from allegedly shooting a dog turned himself in to Niles Police Friday morning around 11 a.m.
Cathy Stevens said she was babysitting her grandchild Thursday afternoon at 511 Maple St. The address is the home of her daughter, Christy Stevens and her two children, Christy's boyfriend, Todd Lahti, and two dogs, including a three-and-a-half year old chocolate Labrador. The residence is next door to the home of 82-year-old Fred Crawford Pearson at 517 Maple St.
Cathy said she heard the Lab barking from inside the house and thought a school bus was dropping her other grandchild off at the home.
Cathy said she then looked out the front window of the house in time to see the Lab run around the metal fence separating the two residences. Cathy said the Lab escaped through a hole in the fence surrounding the backyard of the residence at 511. It was not the first time the pet had gotten loose, Cathy added.
Pearson allegedly shot at the Lab while standing outside on the step of his home, Cathy said. Cathy pointed to a spot on Pearson's lawn less than two feet from the sidewalk where she said the dog died.
Cathy indicated the height of the dog compared to her own by placing her hand on her side about halfway between her knee and her waist.
Christy said the Lab was "up-to-date" on shots and license requirements, and, added the dog had never attempted to cause harm to anyone prior to the incident Thursday.
"He's not a mean dog. I mean, look, I have two young kids," Christy said Friday afternoon.
Christy said Pearson has let her use his telephone in the past and has also pet the Lab as well. Lahti said in a phone conversation that Pearson called the couple when they moved into the house at 511 around six months ago to ask if the dog was dangerous.
Residents of 517 Maple St. declined to answer questions Friday afternoon.
A Niles Police release states officers were called to 517 Maple St. on Thursday, March 9 around 3:44 p.m. on a report that someone had shot a dog. Reports state officers arrived to find Cathy Stevens kneeling over a chocolate Lab that was bleeding from the neck. The Lab was about fifteen feet from the front door of 517 Maple St., according to the press release.
From police investigations, the press release stated it appeared the Lab escaped from its fenced backyard and approached Pearson's residence. It was also reported that the Lab allegedly tried to enter Pearson's home twice when the front door was opened. On the second attempt to enter, the dog was shot in the neck by a shot gun round, the press release stated.
Pearson has been charged with Animal Cruelty (4 year felony), Felony Firearms (2 year felony), and Reckless Use of a Firearm (93 day misdemeanor).
Pearson was released on $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in the Niles Berrien County Trial Court on March 13, at 1:30 p.m. for arraignment, according to police reports.