WAUSEON - A rural Wauseon man who has admitted to shooting his neighbor's beagle and Labrador retriever puppy was charged yesterday with two counts of knowingly and needlessly killing a companion animal.
Both charges against Gary Cochrane of 17894 Fulton County Road C, southwest of Wauseon, are first-degree misdemeanors. If convicted of the charges from Fulton County's Western District Court, Mr. Cochrane could face up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000 on each count.
"I think these charges are fair even though it doesn't solve the loss of our pets," said Andrew Purtee, whose beagle, named Jack, and chocolate Lab puppy, named Brutus, died of gunshot wounds last month.
He said he hoped the charges will make others who are annoyed by a neighbor's dog think twice before taking matters in their own hands.
Mr. Purtee said he also will file a civil lawsuit, asking for compensation for veterinary bills for the injured beagle, replacement of his living room carpet, on which the beagle bled after it ran into the house, and the value of the 2-year-old beagle and the 6-month-old puppy.
Mr. Cochrane, who has posted $500 with the court for his estimation of the value of the animals, said, "Hopefully we'll patch things up and go on."
He referred all further comment to his attorney, Gregory VanGunten.
Because Mr. Cochrane has deposited money with the court, Mr. VanGunten said he does not expect criminal charges to stick. A section of the Ohio Revised Code on trespassing animals calls for such payment to the court within 15 days of killing or injuring an animal while endeavoring to prevent it from trespassing or driving it away from one's property.
Mr. VanGunten said Mr. Cochrane repeatedly told the Purtee family to keep their dogs off his property and they either could not or would not do so. The dogs frequently ran to the Cochrane home, just next door, and ate their cat food and made a mess, Mr. VanGunten said.
The Cochrane family had several cats, but they got rid of them after Mr. Cochrane shot the Purtee family's dogs because the Purtees were complaining about the cats, Mr. VanGunten said.
Mr. Purtee has said he took steps to keep his dogs from running over to the Cochrane property and that he and Mr. Cochrane had talked about the matter amicably.
"He never had come to my door and said, 'Look, keep your dog off my property or I'm going to shoot him,' " Mr. Purtee has said. "I'm just shocked by this."
Mr. VanGunten said he hoped Mr. Cochrane and the Purtees could settle their differences amicably.
"This is not a capital murder case," Mr. VanGunten said. "It would be ever so nice if these neighbors could ratchet down and resolve their differences."
The Purtees have taken down the sign they posted by the road a few days after the dogs died that said: "Dear God, please forgive our neighbor for killing our dog. Love, Drew, 8 years, and Sydney, 5 years."
Contact Jane Schmucker at:
or 419-337-7780.41.55019 -84.13435