BY ANGIE JACKSON
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Deputies confiscated a man's shotgun after he said he unintentionally shot a neighbor's dog.
The man, 76, told Leelanau County sheriff's deputies he fired a long-distance warning shot with a 20-gauge shotgun when two dogs returned to his property Sunday after his wife shooed them away.
Their owner told deputies her family on Sunday arrived at the Leelanau Township home for the summer and let their dogs loose. The pets ran to the neighboring yard, where in the past they played with the previous resident’s dog.
"It was used to the former neighbor having a dog to play with," said Lt. Clint Kerr.
The woman said she heard two gun shots, and one of the dogs appeared to have been hit with shotgun pellets. The animal suffered superficial injuries, deputies said.
The neighbor, 76, told deputies he didn't know the family, and the two dogs ran to his wife on the deck and scared her. She sent them away and went into the home. He said he didn't intend to shoot the dogs when he fired a shot after they returned a short time later.
A report will be forwarded to the prosecutor's office for review. Deputies seized the shotgun as evidence.
The county's animal control enforcement ordinance states a person may kill a dog if the animal is attacking, or is about to attack or wound people, livestock or poultry. A property owner may kill a dog if it enters a field used for producing livestock or poultry and is unaccompanied by its owner.
Prosecutor Joe Hubbell, speaking generally, said the best course of action for dealing with a trespassing canine is to call animal control.
"You got to be careful, I guess, when you take the law in your own hands," he said. "The dog is trespassing, that’s one thing. If it’s attacking you or another human being, that's another."
In an unrelated incident, a Leelanau Township man was convicted for careless discharge of a firearm after he shot his grandson’s dog with a 20-gauge shotgun. A jury found David Priest, 70, guilty of the misdemeanor. Priest said he fired at chipmunks earlier in the day and didn’t intentionally shoot the dog, which ran onto his property.
The dog recovered. Priest will be sentenced this week.