Thursday, January 26, 2017

Alaska: Family says they’ve been wrongly blamed for Goldstream dog killing

ALASKA --  The Goldstream Valley dog killing that led to a proposed animal cruelty law for the Fairbanks North Star Borough didn’t happen the way the dog’s owners described, said the mother of the boy who shot the dog.

Since her son mistakenly killed a loose dog while hunting in the Goldstream Valley, life has changed for her family, Sherril Mose said in an interview earlier this month.

Since the November dog shooting and a December neighborhood meeting hosted by the dog’s owners, her 13- and 14-year-old sons have been subjected to frequent harassment during their small-game hunts in the valley, Mose said.

More than a dozen times people have seen the teens along Goldstream Road and driven at them or stopped to yell at them, she said. Her older son also was reprimanded by one of his high school teachers for shooting the dog, she said.

In addition, dog owners Anita Rae Fowler and Hélène Genet have filed a small claims lawsuit against them. Fowler and Genet seek $1,500 for the death of their 14-month-old sled dog, Padouk. The owners have used the incident to lobby for a borough law, which goes before the Borough Assembly tonight.

Mose said she believes the responsibility for Padouk’s death lies entirely with Fowler.

According to the lawsuit against Mose’s family, Padouk ran away after Fowler let him off leash at the end of a walk on the O’Connor Creek trail.

Mose compares this case with someone letting a dog loose and then blaming its death on a driver who accidentally runs over the dog.  

“They broke the law and anything that came from that is their fault. Shame on them for neglecting their animal,” Mose said.

Mose said her older son shot an animal that was not wearing a collar.

The dog’s owners have said the dog was wearing a collar shortly before it was shot and accuse the boys of removing the collar after killing the dog.

The dog was an Alaskan husky that was easily confused with a coyote when it was shot at 50 yards, Mose said.

After approaching the animal, the boys saw it was bigger than they initially thought and assumed it was a wolf. It looked so much like a wolf that her grandfather, a taxidermist in Delta Junction, also believed the carcass was that of a wolf until he inspected its toenails and found the dog had a microchip, Mose said.

In her lawsuit, Fowler alleges the teenage hunters referred to the animal they shot as either a wolf or a coyote because they learned wolf hunting was illegal in the area and were trying to cover their tracks.

However, wolf hunting isn’t illegal in the area. Alaska’s hunting regulations allow harvests between Aug. 10 and May 31. The bag limit is 10 wolves.

Mose is bothered particularly by the comments of Alaska Rep. David Guttenberg, who suggested at the neighborhood meeting that Padouk’s owners report the teenage hunters to the Alaska Office of Children’s Services, the agency that operates the state foster care system.

Mose said her sons are responsible teenagers who follow the rules. Her older son has completed the state-required hunter education class and has successfully harvested wolves, coyotes and many snowshoe hares.

“He wasn’t out their misusing his gun. He wasn’t out there creating havoc. Look around, do I look like a neglectful mother?” she said in her tidy living room in the Birchwood Homes neighborhood.

The proposed borough ordinance up for a vote tonight would allow the borough to fine people who intentionally kill  animals, with exceptions, such as for legal hunting or trapping, the humane killing of one’s own animal or killing in defense of life and property.

(NewsMiner - Jan 25, 2017)