ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE — A Caroline-area man who shot and killed an RCMP breeding dog thought the large, black German shepherd that circled him in his yard after chasing his cat was a potentially dangerous stray, said his defence lawyer Monday.
“There’s absolutely no way Mr. (Robert Gordon) Adams knew, or should have known, this was anything but a vicious stray that was after his cat. And he killed it,” said Patty MacNaughton, in Rocky Mountain House provincial court.
Adams, 52, was charged with causing death or injury to an animal, unauthorized possession of a firearm and storing a firearm in a careless manner in connection with the shooting of Nyla, a breeding dog for the RCMP’s Police Dog Training Centre near Innisfail.
Nyla was being cared for on a neighbour’s property.
Adams admitted to police that he shot the dog with a single shotgun blast to the head on Aug. 16, 2007.
But he only went for his gun after attempts to get the German shepherd to leave by hollering at the dog and waving his arms, said MacNaughton.
The dog had already chased his cat, Pumpkin, under the house, and Adams was afraid to leave the dog, which he did not know was a neighbour’s, in his yard in case it attacked his cat again.
In rural Alberta farmers have the right to shoot animals, such as dogs, that are harassing livestock, said MacNaughton.
Crown prosecutor Denis Huot said the law is clear about when it is lawful to shoot a dog. It must be attacking people or livestock, not merely trespassing on someone else’s property or chasing a cat.
Huot said according to Adams’ statement to police the dog had finished chasing the cat and was standing in his yard when he went inside for his gun.
“There was no evidence this dog was chasing livestock, nor was he attacking humans.”
Adams could have tried to scare off the dog with a shotgun blast, collared it, or called a county bylaw officer, among other alternatives, he said.
Brenda Hunter, the brood keeper who cared for Nyla on her property about two km from Adams’ place, said the dog went missing early in the afternoon after she let it out to join their other dog and her husband, who was working near the home.
Later, when her husband returned to the house Nyla wasn’t with him.
Hunter drove around looking for the two dogs but could only find her yellow Labrador. When she drove into Adams’ yard to ask him if he had seen Nyla she found the dog lying in a pool of blood a few metres from the front step of his home.
“Actually, I was quite shocked at what I saw.”
Adams was not at home so she put the dog in her car and took it home.
Hunter said while Nyla was high strung she was not mean in any way and had never been aggressive to visitors.
This was the second day of the trial that began last December before Judge Darrell Riemer. He said Monday he would issue his decision at a later date.