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.