Nevada County Animal Control officials are pursuing animal cruelty charges against a Grass Valley man who shot a 9-month-old beagle with a pellet gun earlier this week.
Nevada County Animal Control Lt. Ron Earles said on Friday that Grass Valley resident Ralph Carlson may face charges of animal cruelty and malicious intent, depending on the District Attorney's assessment of animal control's report next week.
Carlson said he encountered the dog in his backyard Thursday morning on the 11000 block of Squirrel Creek Road when he saw it running through his yard with its nose to the ground.
"The dog was small, fast and looked smart," he said. "I felt it was a big threat to my cats."
The puppy's' owner, Dawn Tassone, said she had taken the dog from a friend who could no longer care for it on Wednesday.
The puppy, "Cinnamon," escaped from the front door of her house as her 9-year-old son Joseph left for school.
"She just scooted out the front door," Tassone said. "It looked like she had a scent."
Tassone, who uses a cane for injuries sustained in a severe fall, hobbled after the puppy with her son through her neighbor's yard and onto Carlson's property.
Her son was late for school at Mount Saint Mary's Catholic Elementary, located just down the street, so she dropped Joseph off before continuing the chase.
Tassone then saw Cinnamon in Carlson's yard so she hurried through another neighbor's backyard toward his.
"I saw him standing there with his gun," Tassone said. "I yelled 'Don't shoot my dog!' but he did anyway."
Tassone said Carlson got off three shots. The first one didn't land, but frightened the puppy, who started running toward Tassone. The last two pellets hit the dog - one in the ribcage area and another in the head.
"She went down yelping like crazy," Tassone said. "I was screaming at him 'You shot my dog!' and he just stood there with his gun."
Tassone said she is sorry her dog got loose, but she sees no reason why Carlson had to shoot her dog.
"What happened to common decency?" she said. "She's a sweet, ignorant puppy."
Tassone called animal control and took the dog to Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital. Veterinarian Dr. Jon Peek said the puppy's injuries were not life threatening.
"The injuries are what you might call flesh wounds," said Peek, who removed the pellets Friday.
The District Attorney's office has yet to determine whether the charges filed against Carlson will be felony or misdemeanor, Lt. Earles said.
To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4236.