Man convicted of animal abuse after killing Denver dog on X-Mas Eve

National/World News
Wrigley, a 1-year-old Chocolate Lab, was shot and killed by an Iowa man on Christmas Eve, 2012. (Photo: WQAD)

Wrigley, a 1-year-old Chocolate Lab, was shot and killed by an Iowa man on Christmas Eve, 2012. (Photo: WQAD)

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MARNE, Iowa — An Iowa man accused of shooting and killing the dog of a Denver woman because it was playing in his lawn was convicted of misdemeanor animal abuse.

According to WQAD, authorities with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office charged Charles Cutler with animal abuse after he gunned down Stacey Ernat’s dog in a church parking lot in Marne, Iowa on Christmas Eve. Authorities also cited Cutler for reckless use of a firearm in town.

He will face up to two years in prison after being convicted of those charges this week.

Police say Cutler shot Stacey Ernat’s dog, Wrigley, a 1-year-old chocolate lab, as the dog was playing with a relative’s dog in the church lot adjacent to Cutler’s residence. Ernat, a Denver third grade teacher who was vacationing in the area, watched with relatives as Cutler shoot the dog with a shotgun from a distance of 30 to 40 feet away. The lab was taken to a local vet center, but died hours later.

Police say Cutler admitted he shot the dog “because he didn’t want it in his yard.” All Ernat could do was watch in horror as Wrigley suffered.

“She (Wrigley) was curled up in a ball, really scared and confused why she was hurt so bad, so I picked her up and I held her an I told her it was gonna be OK,” Ernat said. “I just wish he (Culter) would have thought about what he was about to do because I wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t be heartbroken without my best friend.”

In addition to Ernat and her relatives, several other witnesses saw Cutler pull the trigger. Later, Cutler would testify Wrigley and the other dog growled at him, and he shot out of fear for his own safety.

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