Eric J. Hessney of Cornelia Street in Dresden appeared before Justice Jean Mashewske in Torrey Court at 2 p.m.July 24 in relation to the shooting of a dog on Bogart St. July 15. He is charged with second degree reckless endangerment (class A misdemeanor), discharging a firearm on a public highway, and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a residence (Environmental Conservation laws).
Hessney requested a public defender, saying he is retired with a part-time job. He was served with a stay-away order of protection for Daniel Mitchell, the owner of the dog, and an order to surrender all firearms to the Yates County Sheriff by July 31. Upon hearing that, Hessney said, “They’re going to need a truck or something.” When the judge asked for the number of weapons he possessed, he estimated it was fewer than 15. The order bars him from obtaining more firearms.
Hessney was released to reappear Aug. 7.
At 3 p.m. the same day, Daniel Mitchell, the owner of the dog that was shot, appeared for a hearing to determine if his dog, a male German Shorthair Pointer mix, was dangerous and should be destroyed. Yates County Animal Control Officer Tom Morse was sworn, but could only testify that he had examined Mitchell’s dog after action was asked for by Kellin Lancer, the owner of a beagle that was badly injured by Mitchell’s dog. Lancer was not present during theJuly 15 incident.
Linda Merritt, who was walking her granddaughter’s beagle on Bogart Street when the incident began, testified that she heard two people talking when Mitchell’s dog ran up and began circling her and the beagle. She said that she was “screaming at the top of my lungs” and began kicking at Mitchell’s dog, but that it wrapped the leash it was dragging around her feet so she could no longer kick, and then grabbed the beagle by the back of its neck and would not let go. She said that Mitchell’s other dog was also circling them.
Merritt said Mitchell was on top of his dog within moments and was trying to get it to let go of the beagle when Hessney drove up to the scene “with a little gun” and began to beat Mitchell’s dog on the head with it.
She said Hessney told Mitchell to get back because he was going to shoot the dog, but Mitchell did not. She then heard a “pop,” and the dog let go.
Merritt then showed the judge pictures of the scene and the injuries to the beagle, saying that it has undergone two surgeries and is at the veterinarian still with an infection.
Merritt wanted to introduce others to testify against the dog, but since there were no complaints filed with animal control, it was not permitted. Others attempted to interject, but were denied since they were not present at the incident in question.
Mitchell said he had both his dogs on leashes at his property when he got tangled in one just as the pointer saw the beagle and bolted, pulling the leash out of his hand. He ran after him, leaving his older female dog behind. His companion Kyle Anne Pallischeck testified that she followed and took the leash of the female dog, leading her away.
Mitchell said his dog has the single wound to its head but that the shards of the bullet remain lodged in the back of its neck near the spine. He provided a letter from his vet stating his dog had never shown any aggression during its visits there, and had a list of several people who have had their toddlers in contact with the dog with no sign of aggression. He said he is leaving Dresden, and will keep his dog indoors and will muzzle it while outside on a leash or in the fenced area of his back yard, until the house is sold.
The judge explained that recent changes in animal control laws state that an attack on a companion animal can condemn a dog as dangerous, but that if Mitchell can prove the dog is confined and muzzled while out, she would not order it destroyed. Mitchell readily agreed. The judge went on to suggest training for the dog to control its aggression toward other dogs. She also advised Merritt of her small claims court rights to seek payment for the vet bills, but suggested to Mitchell that if the bills were presented to him and he “wanted to be a sport,” he could simply pay them.
After the hearing, Lancer told Mashewske the beagle was up and walking around at the vet’s, and said she thought the decision was fair.
Merritt said, “Everybody in this community is scared,” and mentioned another Dresden resident whose dog had allegedly been bitten when it went into Mitchell’s yard while his dog was on a lead.
Mashewske advised her that if anyone should see Mitchell’s dog loose, they should call the police.