Family wants jail time for dog shooter | AspenTimes.com
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Family wants jail time for dog shooter

A Carbondale family whose dog was shot and killed by a neighbor last summer says the event was so traumatic that even their cat and rabbit have suffered.

Steven and Cynthia Tanis wrote in court documents filed in Pitkin County Court that the alleged shooter should spend time in jail and be ordered to compensate them at least $36,780.

Cynthia Tanis wrote that the shooting of her Rottweiler, Xena, has dramatically affected her life and those of every person and pet in her family.

“I suffer from recurring nightmares, imagining Xena’s pain and shock at being shot,” wrote Tanis in a victim’s impact statement filed in the court case against Ted Coffman, the alleged shooter.

“I miss her as I go about my daily chores of feeding the horses,” Tanis continued. “Her enthusiasm and joy of accompanying me through the many mundane tasks of maintaining a family and business is something I miss each day.”

Tanis added that her husband, her son and an employee all continue to be upset about the shooting of the family dog.

“Lastly, our cat cried and was ill, and the rabbit, with which Xena slept in the kennel, is quietly losing weight,” wrote Tanis. “We are all suffering tremendously.”

Tanis said she is unwilling to buy another dog as long as Coffman is her neighbor. She wants him sentenced, if found guilty, to an unspecified amount of time in jail. She suggested that Coffman be ordered to perform community service in a kennel for abused animals. And she asked that Coffman be ordered to take hunter safety and anger management classes.

Coffman is facing misdemeanor charges of cruelty to an animal and prohibited use of a weapon. He is accused of shooting the dog twice Aug. 19 with a shotgun.

Coffman’s attorney, Patrick Mika, appeared in court on his client’s behalf yesterday and was granted a continuance for the third time. A hearing has now been scheduled for Feb. 15, 2000.

Depending on the outcome of the February hearing, the case will either be set for trial or be resolved through a plea bargain, a court official said.

Cynthia Tanis has already admitted to committing dog control and licensing violations. She paid $25 in fines and $18 in court costs. A petty offense of keeping a vicious dog was dropped.

Authorities alleged both parties were responsible for the incident. Coffman and his family had previously complained to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office about Xena’s allegedly aggressive behavior. They had also asked the Tanis family to keep the dog off their property, according to police reports.

Steven Tanis, Cynthia’s husband, wrote in a victim’s impact statement that he had installed an invisible fence system to keep the dog away from the Coffmans and planned to start training Xena the day she was shot.

Tanis said his family should be compensated nearly $37,000 by Coffman for the shooting, including the cost of feeding her for 13 months, boarding her a few times, visits to the veterinarian, invisible fencing and labor to install the fencing.

The big expense was for alleged lost income.

“It was our intention to breed Xena and sell puppies to supplement our income since she was from championship bloodlines,” wrote Steven Tanis. “She would have produced seven litters in her lifetime with an average of eight pups per littler – usually 10 per litter with Rotties – at an average selling price of $600 each. This is a potential loss of income of $33,600.”

He also said Coffman should be accountable for punitive damages to the Tanis family.

“Our pain, our fears, our suffering, our attitude changes, our loss of a family member in such a violent way is all very real to us,” Steven Tanis wrote. “It will not go away anytime in the near future.”

He said a dollar figure for the suffering should be determined in court.

– Reporter Tim Mutrie contributed to this report.


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