Jury Finds Man Had Right To Shoot Dog

OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) - A jury took about an hour to acquit a property owner in the shooting of a family's pet dog that wandered onto the man's property in Lorain County.

Lee Roy Drake, 74, of Penfield Township, was found innocent Thursday of a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty in the death Nov. 29 of Oreo, a 3-year-old mixed breed.

"I was irritated, so I shot the dog," Drake testified.

He said he was hunting deer when the dog frightened them.

"I understand that the dog was trespassing, but what he (Drake) did -- that's beyond repair," said Terri Mahon, the dog's owner, outside of Municipal Court.

During the one-day trial, Drake said the dog had roamed a mile away from the Mahons' home and onto his mostly wooded 70-acre property. He said he fired a single 12-gauge shotgun slug into the black-and-white dog from 60 to 65 yards away.

"The buzzards will take care of it," Drake said when asked during his testimony why he didn't contact anyone about the shooting.

He said the family was notified of Oreo's death after Terri Mahon's husband, Jim, called him a few days later.

Ohio law says property owners can shoot trespassing dogs when the animal poses a legitimate threat to their property, which Oreo did, said Drake's defense attorney, Kenneth Lieux.

Prosecutor Jim Walsh said the dog had shown no aggression.

"He intentionally, willfully killed that dog," Walsh said in his closing statement.

In 2000, Drake was found innocent in the same court of killing a dog that was on his property. He was acquitted in the killing of a golden retriever that had gone after some of his domestic geese.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)