DA’s office officially declines to press charges in shooting death of Kremmling puppy
January 5, 2019
The 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office has declined to press charges against either of the two people involved in a December incident where a puppy escaped his Kremmling family's yard and was shot to death after getting onto a neighboring ranch.
In a statement released Friday morning, the district attorney's office, which serves Grand County, officially concluded that the shooter of the dog was within his rights per Colorado Title 35, which allows ranchers to kill dogs that they believe are endangering livestock regardless of whether the dog is on their property.
On the evening of Dec. 18, the sheriff's office responded to the home of Gwendolyn Cook on Depot Avenue in Kremmling where her family dog, a four-month-old husky named Demon, had gotten out of its fenced yard and onto the neighboring Sammons ranch, causing the rancher's son, Cole Sammons, to shoot the dog twice.
Earlier that day, Jeffrey Fowler, Jr., who was staying with his sister, Cook, had let the dog into the yard, where he escaped onto the Sammons ranch and began jumping and barking at the cattle "playfully," according to the district attorney's report.
Fowler attempted to get the dog back onto his sister's property by calling out to him for several minutes, the report states. When Fowler stepped back inside, he heard the first gunshot and rushed outside to see what was happening, only to watch as the dog was shot to death outside his sister's yard.
According to the district attorney's report, the Sammons have had previous issues with dogs — not necessarily Cook's husky — harassing their cattle, so the rancher's son initially shot the dog upon seeing it chasing and biting at the cattle. He then followed it and shot it again so that the dog wouldn't suffer, the report states.
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The Grand County Sheriff's Office cited Title 35 immediately following the incident as the legal precedent for not arresting or charging the shooter. Title 35 fully states that "any dog found running, worrying, or injuring sheep, cattle, or other livestock may be killed, and the owner or harborer of such dog shall be liable for all damages done by it."
The district attorney's office also declined to press charges against Fowler, despite probable cause to charge him with "dog at large," which is a Grand County ordinance that states it is unlawful for any person owning a dog or other animal or any person in possession of someone else's dog or animal to permit it to run at large.
The district attorney's office said they used prosecutorial discretion in the case since Fowler and the dog's owners, Robert Ballard and Cook, have suffered the loss of the dog.