A MAN who shot a dog with an air rifle in Spofforth said he was worried about the safety of his animals and family, Harrogate Magistrates Court heard this week.
John Shaw, 36, of Littondale Avenue, Knaresborough, pleaded guilty on Monday to cruelly shooting a 12-year-old labrador and to a second charge of using threatening or abusive behaviour.
Shaw was ordered to pay 1,500 compensation and 250 court costs and he was given a six-month conditional discharge by magistrates for shooting the dog in a field on a smallholding he rents off Manor Garth, Spofforth, in January.
Clive Farndon, defending, said Shaw knew he had acted unreasonably and in "the heat of the moment".
Mr Farndon told the court Shaw, who has kept horses, sheep, goats and chickens on the land for three years, had not intended to injure the dog.
He said Shaw was worried about the dog attacking his animals or causing them distress, as had happened in similar incidents in July, 2006 when a rottweiler attacked his goats and in January, 2007 when a different labrador killed a cockerel.
He said Shaw's daughter was also playing with friends nearby and that he was worried for her safety when he fired at the dog's rump to try and scare it off.
"He was concerned for the wider public, his animals and his daughter.
"Through his experiences he is very well aware of the effects of dogs when they are roaming at large on farmland," Mr Farndon told the court.
Earlier this year Shaw had told the police: "At no point did I intend any animal injury. It was a case of protecting my livestock."
Prosecuting, Mrs Caroline May said the labrador, a rescue dog called Bonnie, was shot in the stomach after she slipped her lead and entered the field adjacent to the bridleway where she was being walked by her owner.
Mrs May told the court that owner June Geddes saw a man appear carrying an air rifle which he cocked and fired at her dog.
Mrs Geddes claimed the man then approached her and shouted that the shot was a warning and that next time he would kill the dog, which Mrs Geddes got from Labrador Welfare four years ago.
The pellet perforated Bonnie's intestines in six places, narrowly missing her spine, and she was taken to Hutchinson, Dunlop and Baird vets in Wetherby where she was on life support for four days. The total vet's bill was more than 2,000.
Mrs May told the magistrates Mrs Geddes has been walking along the same bridleway for many years and had never had a problem before.
The prosecution said the dog seemed dazed and was bleeding and shivering on the floor, and said the vet had described the incident as "severe", saying it was "very fortunate not to damage any major organs."
Chairman of the magistrates, Alison Stockdale, said while Shaw was guilty of shooting the dog, Mrs Geddes should bear some of the responsibility for letting the dog roam into the field.
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