Millers man gets jail time for fatally shooting dog

September 27, 1994|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,Sun Staff Writer

There wasn't much in the world that didn't interest Harley Moore's 18-month-old boxer: hopping frogs in the tall grass, neighborhood cats, the three little girls up the street who loved to play with him. And he loved riding shotgun whenever Mr. Moore went to the store.

Throughout the neighborhood, the little fawn-colored boxer was known as Buster, a friendly, high-spirited pup.

Buster did have a flaw -- he wasn't housebroken. It was a flaw that cost Buster his life in July and brought a 60-day jail sentence yesterday for Mr. Moore's brother-in-law, William Mielke, who shot the dog three times in a drunken rage.

As the story unfolded in Owings Mills District Court yesterday, Mr. Moore, who lives in New Freedom, Pa., dropped his 8-month-old daughter and Buster at Mr. Mielke's house in the Millers area of northwestern Baltimore County on July 3.

Mr. Moore's mother-in-law, who lived in the house with Mr. Mielke, had agreed to watch both the child and Buster for the day.

According to prosecutor Daniel Trimble, Buster apparently felt nature's call about 3 p.m. As was his custom, he sat quietly by the door -- never barking -- waiting for someone to notice. No one did, and Buster urinated on the kitchen floor.

Enraged, Mr. Mielke, 51, grabbed Buster by his choker chain and beat his head against the floor and wall while his mother-in-law, Delores Plantholt, pleaded with him to stop, according to testimony and police reports.

Buster broke free and ran outside. When the dog returned to the house a short time later, Mr. Mielke picked up a rifle and shot the animal once. Mrs. Plantholt said she begged Mr. Mielke to help Buster, who was yelping and crying in the yard, but he refused.

She told police he screamed back at her, "No, the damn thing deserved to suffer. Dogs. People. They should all be shot when they're a pain."

Police said Mr. Mielke then shot Buster twice more, killing the animal, and threw the dog's body into a nearby reservoir.

When Mr. Moore found out what happened later that day, he called the police, who later arrested Mr. Mielke and charged him with two counts of cruelty to animals.

"I never regretted anything more in my life," Mr. Mielke told Judge Patricia Pytash yesterday.

The judge was not sympathetic.

"Helpless people or animals have no way to defend themselves," she said. "If there ever was a case that defined animal cruelty, this was it."

Mr. Mielke, a retired C&P worker, received two concurrent 60 day sentences, less than the maximum of 90 days on each charge. He posted $500 bail pending an appeal.

Mr. Moore said the incident has made everyone in the family edgy. He said Mrs. Plantholt has moved out of the house, and that he and Mr. Mielke have not spoken, except in court yesterday.

"I'm not angry anymore, but I miss my dog," Mr. Moore said. "Good Christians forgive and forget, but that's hard to do."

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