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Dismissal Sought in Waterville Dog Shooting

Posted on Jul 25, 2009 - 4:30 PM
Burlington Free Press

July 22, 2009


Dismissal sought in Waterville dog shooting

Attorney for Essex police officer filed motion Monday

By John Briggs
Free Press Staff Writer

The attorney for Essex police Officer Michael Wootton filed a motion Monday in Vermont District Court in Hyde Park to dismiss animal cruelty charges against his client.

Prosecutors have 10 days to respond, Lamoille County State's Attorney Joel Page said.

Wootton, 35, a full-time officer, was placed on administrative duties after he shot his neighbor's 80-pound mixed breed dog, Hooch, on April 30 on Phyllis Lane in Waterville. Hooch was owned by Ritchie and Rosemary Rogers.

Wootton said he shot the dog to protect his 20-pound pug, Yoda.

He said he was looking from his window at about 12:30 p.m. when he saw Hooch attack Yoda, biting at his throat. He said he ran next door and, with the Rogers' daughter, Mindy Maskell, and her friend, Shawn Hickok, tried unsuccessfully to separate the dogs.

He said in a sworn statement that he ran home to get his handgun. The dogs had been separated by the time he returned, but Wootton said Hooch was unsecured and attacked Yoda again. Wootton fired one .45-caliber bullet and killed the dog.

The state's attorney said the legality of the shooting was somewhat muddled, as one Vermont law prohibits the killing of a pet without the owner's consent, while another law permits such a killing if one animal attacks another with a reasonable threat of causing injury.

"There's an overlap between them," Page said. "Kind of a gray area."

The maximum penalty for cruelty to animals is a fine of $2,000 and up to one year in prison.

Wootton's next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 29.


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