Massachusetts man claims self-defense in fatal shooting of golden retriever

A couple from Lakeville, Massachusetts, is trying to make sense of why their dog was killed over the weekend, but the couple’s neighbor, who fatally shot the dog, claims he acted in self-defense after the dog began acting aggressively.

Krissy Dashner and Pat Bates told reporters they let their two dogs – Walle, a golden retriever, and Zeke, a German shepherd – out Sunday, but as they went to slip their leashes on, they both ran into a wooded area next to their property. The couple said they searched for the dogs for about an hour before they heard the sound of gunfire.

“When I heard the gunshots, I had a sinking feeling,” Dashner told WCVB.

The couple’s neighbor, who only wanted to be identified as Mark, was the one responsible for the gunshots, the couple later learned.

Mark, who said he has a lot of problems with animals getting into his chicken coop, heard a “frenzy” near the coop Sunday, so he grabbed his gun and headed outside. Outside, Mark said, he discovered the two dogs and a dead chicken.

Mark said he tried to “spook” the dogs, but was unsuccessful.

“The retriever turned and charged at me. I had no choice but to shoot him, it was self-defense,” Mark said. “It was either get bit by the dog or shoot him.”

Mark said he’s an animal lover and would never shoot a dog without reason. Nonetheless, Mark shot Walle a total of five times and said he does not regret his actions.

Walle’s owners learned of his death some time later after police arrived on the scene. They said they are “heartbroken by the dog’s death, but also questioned their neighbor’s claims.

“I can’t extrapolate that situation in my mind, where you would need lethal force against a 50-pound golden retriever,” Bates said.

The couple described him as a “goofball” who got along well with children and loved to play in the water. Dashner said the neighbor should have just called animal control or contacted them directly.

The incident remains under investigation by local authorities.