By DANIEL BLACKBURN
A criminal prosecution will proceed against a Creston man who admitted to shooting and killing a prize Rhodesian Ridgeback owned by a neighbor.
District Attorney Dan Dow has passed the case along to a deputy, according to the dog’s owner, David Murray. It remains uncertain if the case will be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor.
The animal, named Snoop Dogg, died after being hit in the heart Aug. 16 by a bullet fired by a high-powered hunting rifle equipped with telescopic sights. Snoop Dogg was shot from a distance of approximately 200 yards, said Murray.
The pending prosecution follows more than nine weeks of investigation following admission to sheriff’s deputies by Stephen William Almond that he was the shooter.
“I can confirm Mr. Almond admitted to Deputy Ricks that he shot the dog,” wrote San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla in an email to a reporter. “But I can’t detail the statements that were made during the investigation.”
Almond sat in a 16-foot-high shooting tower when he spotted Snoop Dogg in an open field.
The sheriff quickly recommended that the district attorney pursue felony animal cruelty charges.
While Dow pondered his decision, he wrote to Murray: “I completely understand how the passage of time seems like an eternity. However, I can assure you that no one is getting preferential treatment. We take our duty and obligations very seriously. We cannot and do not rush to judgment or make decisions in haste – we must make every filing decision carefully. As I’m sure you can appreciate, this (thankfully) does not happen with frequency and we must be thorough.”
Dow added, “We continue to make this important case a high priority.”
A petition at Change.org now bears 1,000 signatures of people asking for a felony prosecution of Almond.
“We have hired a prominent local investigator at our personal expense,” Murray told Dow, “and we are willing to share with you the information we have gathered.”
That investigator, Alan Bond, suggested the district attorney’s “leisurely” progress on the prosecution is simply adding to the Murray family’s angst.
“Adding to their victimization is wrong. And it’s ironic, as I put the victim’s services program together for the district attorney.”
Murray said he and members of his family have seen Almond sitting in his shooting tower looking at us on our property through either binoculars or a scope.” He said he has informed the sheriff’s department about his concerns.