BERLIN, N.H. (CNN) – Online tips to police about a dog found shot in the woods led to an animal cruelty investigation.
Police say a man shot his own dog, claiming the animal was dangerous. Commenters on Facebook were livid over the news, but did the owner do anything wrong? Is it against the law to shoot your dog? It is a question the Berlin Police Department in New Hampshire is investigating in the wake of public outcry.
Lieutenant Dan Buteau said his department received a call Tuesday about a dog found shot to death in a wooded area.
“We responded to that location and did observe a dog with at least two gunshot wounds,” Buteau said.
As the story swirled on Facebook about the death of the white and brown mixed breed pup, police located its owner.
“He stated that the dog on a number of occasions had bitten a young child – I think three,” Buteau said.
Police say the owner first tried to give the dog away via Facebook but then determined, due to the violent nature of the dog, giving it away would not be a good idea.
“He put the dog down himself,” Buteau said.
Police describe the owner as cooperative.
It’s not clear why the owner didn’t go to a vet or shelter, but they say he was sad about the death.
Part of the investigation centers around researching statutes governing animal cruelty and euthanasia.
“It is illegal to torture your animal or to whip your animal or any such thing that may be deemed as cruel under that statute. Under that particular statute, it does not talk about putting down a dog, essentially, due to it being dangerous,” Buteau said.
Reaction on social media continues to grow. Something police say can both help and hurt.
“Because of the misinformation that gets out there and it just snowballs into something it’s really not. But helpful in that it does provide us some evidence, whether it’s timelines or whether it’s statements made, pictures posted or anything like that,” Buteau said.
Under the animal cruelty statute, the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Anyone found guilty could face a fine or possible jail time.