Florida Man Acquitted in Shooting of Two Huskies Who Were Harassing Cows

This video was used as evidence in a controversial case in Florida where a judge has ruled that Christopher Comins was justified in shooting two Siberian huskies in a cow pasture who were harassing his cows.

Comins insisted that he was justified in shooting Raley and Hoochie on May 19, 2008 and that they were surrounding the cows and depriving them of water.

Judge Bob LeBlanc agreed. LeBlanc found that he was not cruel in shooting both dogs multiple times and “[t]his was not someone who was torturing an animal.” However, LeBlanc stopped the trial before that issue was allowed to be decided by the jury — a surprising move since this would appear the ultimate fact finding.

Comins insisted that he was only acting to protect “defenseless, baby calves from invading predators that had been there for hours” and that he is ” glad both dogs are doing fine.”

According to this article, Christopher Butler, the dog owner, said he saw Comins shoot Raley and the dog came toward him wounded. “I said, ‘Just stop shooting,’ He (the shooter) turned around and shot the other dog again.”

Many disagreed with the ruling. I am less concerned about the ruling on the merits as I am the decision to end the trial on such a finding of fact. One can certainly dress up the issue as a mixed question of law and fact, but this appears to be the quintessential question for the jury as a finder of fact.

Both dogs amazingly survived, though one lost an eye in the shooting.

28 thoughts on “Florida Man Acquitted in Shooting of Two Huskies Who Were Harassing Cows

  1. Well, we don’t know enough about the story. But I can tell you that roving bands of dogs in rual areas are a menance. I’ve seen dogs terrify horses in the neighborhood. It’s not nice to seem wild-eyed one ton horses crashing through fences and running around with children in the vicinity.

    I love dogs.

    But I have contempt for morons who knowingly let their dogs harass a neighborhood. It’s really the not the dog’s fault.

    I wonder if these dogs had been off leash regularly?

    Did the jury find out or did the trial end before that? Strange indeed.

  2. The shooter, property owner/developer, and mayor are all in the same prayer group. Ah, the “power of prayer”…

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2008-05-31/news/dogshot31_1_dogs-youtube-christopher-butler/2

    From the article:

    “Last week, deputy sheriffs concluded that Orlando businessman Christopher Comins acted legally after developer Daryl Carter asked him to kill dogs chasing cattle on Carter-owned land on Narcoossee Road.”

    “The owner of CustomFab, a company that builds special steel-pipe products for NASA, Walt Disney World and other customers, Comins has been a property investor with Carter and Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty. All three attend the same prayer group.”

    (“Oh, my God. Oh, my God,” the tourist says on the video as a lone man walks into the pasture, draws a handgun and begins shooting the huskies. “Absolutely unbelievable. That’s . . . America for you. Guns!”) — just an aside…

  3. Tootie,

    There was, undoubtedly, a better way to deal with the situation. Call animal control, use tranquilizer darts, let the owner contain the dogs…, but to simply shoot them???

    (And why wasn’t the jury allowed to determine the outcome?)

  4. Yeah, those were some seriously wide-eyed, aggitated cows. The video shows them in a state of crazed pacifity and inactivity whipped up by those demonic dogs into a mad frenzy of cud chewing and uninterupted grass grazing. And these clowns claim to part of a prayer group—what a yuck that is.

  5. Always so much more to these stories than meets the eye. The devil truly is in the details…

    “Christopher Comins, 49, was charged with focusing his gun’s laser site on his girlfriend’s son’s forehead. He pleaded no contest to a lesser charge and served one year probation.”

    In a prayer group, you say???

    http://blog.bradycampaign.org/?p=150

    Man With Reported Criminal History Shoots Dogs (Video)
    » by NewsWatch on June 2nd, 2008

    According to WFTV-TV (ABC 9, Orlando):

    A man is accused of shooting two dogs on a ranch in Orange County and video of the incident has sparked worldwide outrage. The dogs both survived, it’s not the first time the man has been in trouble because of a gun.

    The man says he shot the dogs to protect a calf on a ranch in south Orange County off Narcoossee Road, but Eyewitness News also found out the man has a gun violation in his past.

    Christopher Comins, 49, was charged with focusing his gun’s laser site on his girlfriend’s son’s forehead. He pleaded no contest to a lesser charge and served one year probation.

    end excerpt

  6. After watching the video and reading the link anon nurse posted I think something stinks … and it ain’t cow-pies.

  7. rcampbell,

    lol

    (This blog often supplies a daily dose of sanity… Thanks for the first hit of the day, so to speak…)

  8. anon:

    Well, I don’t know much about cows. I doubt they get as crazed as horses when frightened (though a bull can be very dangerous when agitated). There wouldn’t be time to wait for authorities if the situation was with horses (they could kill people in cars, etc.)

    I agree that the jury should have been able to examine all the facts and continue with the case.

  9. Blouise hit the nail on the head. This criminal case smells fishy! Of course, Florida is fast becoming the Texas of the Southeast.
    Someone needs to put this guy away before he starts killing things bigger than puppies and dogs. I think Prof. Turley is correct that something isn’t right with this judge. Especially if he had this person in front of him for beating puppies!

  10. some other observations,
    i have lived on a farm and sometimes feral animals can be a problem but these dogs are obvously not wild.
    i’d also point out this isn’t much of a rural area, the cow pasture is bordered on one side by a sidewalk.
    third, if this guy keeps a gun for self protection he’d be much better off puting the gun in a purse and hitting someone with that. ten shots at targets that are sometimes on the ground, no more than 5-7 feet away.
    i am glad Elmer Fudd can’t shoot straight and the dogs are o.k.

  11. I suppose Cows taste better than dogs….can’t say I know first hand….but hey…I stay away from exclusive Chinese Take Out only….coincidence or does it appear that the area has no stray pet population….

  12. Pete, Your take on it is sounding pretty reasonable to me. Considering what I have been told by a couple of people I know that had farms and cows, I expected to see a pack of wild dogs ripping a calf open since this is what my farmer contacts have complained about. Wild dog packs are a problem in rural areas when it comes to killing farm animals including sheep, goats and calves. (There’s a difference between how coyotes and dogs hunt, you can tell what’s killing your calf’s if you get to them soon after they’re killed).

    Those dogs in the vid weren’t feral by any means.

    A memory just bubbled up to the surface after 40 years:

    My grandparents farm was plagued by a pack of dogs that had ‘turned’. They were a farm family and people would just drive out to the country and drop off kittens and puppies and dogs they didn’t want. Their farm always had a dozen cats that they took in and usually more than one throw-away dog for all of the years I visited them.

    My cousins and I had some chores but generally had most of the day to wander the property and neighboring property on our own. It was mixed terrain: woods, pasture, washes, streams, the occasional venture into a neighbors orchard, and a BIG cave we were too afraid to actually go into because people went in and died there, lost. The cave eventually became a tourist attraction and turned the surrounding farms (with buy-outs and eminent domain) into suburbs, highway, and souvenir shops. Bastards. I digress.

    I recall one year when I visited, my oldest male cousin (14-15) was given my aunts rifle and told that if he spotted the dog pack to shoot them if he could get off any shots. He carried the rifle for a couple of weeks as we would wander about but we never saw the dogs.

  13. For the purposes of the this blog, the legal issue seems to be the most pressing. That being the judge ending the trial before the jury had a chance to voice their opinion. The Florida law allows a rancher to protect their cattle. In this case (probably because of the video) the cattle owner did not press that the dogs were trying to kill the cattle directly but were keeping them away from the water source for 4 hours. It was never offered as evidence that they were dehydrated or were trying to get to water. That was enough for this judge. It is also murky that the cattle owner knew that “dogs” were involved. Initially it was reported that wolves were attacking the cattle.
    (no wolves in that part of Florida)So now we have a Rancher asking a friend to protect the cattle. So the shooter takes a target pistol to the field and seeing two huskies ( with collars) romping around and opens fire. Do you see a connection of a rancher protecting cattle from predators to pets playing in the field being target practice for the shooter? This judge added another layer of stink.

  14. “Something really stinks down in Orange County Florida and it isn’t cattle droppings. After 32 months, Christopher Comins Felony Animal Cruelty trial was held this week. A jury was selected, opening statements were made, and the prosecution presented their case with witnesses and evidence. But right smack in the middle of it, the presiding judge acquitted Comins of all charges, and the jury was dismissed… Judges are elected in the State of Florida and Judge Bob LeBlanc is up for re-election in 2012.”
    Read more: http://lawvibe.com/top-5-animal-cruelty-cases-of-2010/#ixzz1BPTxlPCY

  15. I admit that dogs should not be off leash, however, does anybody care that this comins guy has been convicted TWO OTHER TIMES for gun violence. One of which he pointed a loaded gun at his girlfriend’s son’s head?? Maybe the dogs shouldn’t have been there and the owner is to blame, but come on? How does this guy still have rights to a gun. He obviously fires it willy nilly outside and either couldn’t hear all the screams of protest or chose to ignore them. This is southern good ‘ole boys at their worst. Comins is backed by someone who has that judge in his pocket. Way to go Florida politics.

  16. […] JONATHAN TURLEY “(Judge Bob) LeBlanc stopped the trial before that issue was allowed to be decided by the jury — a surprising move since this would appear the ultimate fact finding… Many disagreed with the ruling. I am less concerned about the ruling on the merits as I am the decision to end the trial on such a finding of fact. One can certainly dress up the issue as a mixed question of law and fact, but this appears to be the quintessential question for the jury as a finder of fact.” […]

  17. American lowlifes, and soon Elohim will deal with them.

    The American is an abomination. The justice system acquits based on race. Woe to them who call evil good…Judgment is very near now.

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