Charges filed in Anne Arundel dog park shooting

Shooter charged with 2 misdemeanors

August 18, 2010|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

Anne Arundel County prosecutors said Wednesday morning that they are filing charges against a man who fatally shot Bear-Bear, a Siberian husky, at a Severn dog park about two weeks ago.

The misdemeanor charges against Keith Shepherd, 32, of Severn, a civilian police officer for the Army in Northern Virginia, are animal cruelty and discharging a firearm within 100 yards of an occupied home, according to a statement by prosecutors.

The brother of Rachel Rettaliata, who owned Bear-Bear with her husband Ryan, took the couple's husky to the Quail Run community dog park on the evening of Aug. 2. Shepherd and his wife Wendy brought their dog, Asia, a German shepherd. According to police, Shepherd said that Bear-Bear attacked Asia and then menaced him. He also told police that Rettaliata's brother, Steven Ryan Kurinij, did not respond to his request to intevene, so he shot Bear-Bear and called 911.

The Rettaliata family has disputed Shepherd's account. Kurinij said the dogs were playing and that before he could act, Shepherd fired his weapon. The dog died a few hours later a veterinary hospital.

The handgun was Shepherd's personal weapon. The Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office conferred with the office of the Judge Advocate General, the Maryland Attorney General's Office and the Department of Defense and concluded that as an officer for the Army, Shepherd was allowed to carry the handgun, according to Kristin Fleckenstein, the spokeswoman for the prosecutors.

"He does not have to turn in his weapon as a result of these charges," Fleckenstein said.

She said prosecutors – two were working on the investigation – based their decision on the police investigation and interviews by prosecutors who specialize in animal cruelty cases and firearm cases. Police had reopened the case after a public outcry.

"I'm happy round one is over and now we're on to round two, to get him convicted," said Becky Prodoehl, 26, of Millersville, one of the people who organized a "Justice for Bear-Bear" rally in that took place Monday in front of the Anne Arundel County Court House in Annapolis. The rally's name comes from a Facebook page in support of the pet's owners. She said she wished Shepherd would have had to turn in his weapon.

Shepherd had been suspended from his job during the investigation.

A conviction for animal cruelty, and inflicting unnecessary pain to an animal is punishable by up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail. A conviction on the weapons charge is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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