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Two Toledo men were arraigned Monday on charges that they took turns shooting a German shepherd while the dog was caged and howling in a backyard.
The dog, named Sarge, survived six 25-caliber bullets to his head and chest and is now recovering at the Lucas County dog pound.
"He's alive and he's up and walking," Dog Warden Julie Lyle said last night, noting that all six bullets remain lodged inside the dog. "He's a tough guy."
Toledo police on Friday arrested the dog's owner, Lawrence Mick, 57, of 631 Federal St. in East Toledo, and a friend, Adam Collins, 35, of 317 River Place, after witnesses described how the two men "took turns shooting the dog while it was in the cage and the dog was screaming," according to police reports.
Police said the shooting occurred at about 6:30 p.m. Friday in the backyard of the Federal Street address.
A neighbor, Melissa Campau, 46, said she called 911 after hearing the dog's first yelp.
When Ms. Campau looked out her window, she said, she saw two men standing over the caged dog outside the Federal Street residence where Mick lives with his girlfriend.
"The younger guy shot the dog three or four more times," Ms. Campau said, a reference to Mr. Collins.
Both men went inside the house for a few minutes, before "the older guy [Mick] came out and shot the dog a couple more times."
Friday's shooting followed a June 23 incident in which a South Toledo man and his girlfriend are accused of kidnapping a neighbor's dog and shooting it twice with a 45-caliber handgun.
That dog, named Tyson, is expected to live but will be blind in one eye.
Parts of the South Toledo incident were caught on video by a neighbor's surveillance cameras.
Both Mick and Mr. Collins were arraigned Monday in Toledo Municipal Court. Mick was held last night in the Lucas County jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond. He's charged with cruelty to animals, discharging a firearm, inducing panic, obstructing official business, and having weapons after previously being convicted on drug charges.
He is to appear Monday before Toledo Municipal Judge Timothy Kuhlman.
Mr. Collins pleaded no contest and was found guilty of cruelty to animals, inducing panic, giving false information to a police officer, and discharging firearms. He was released on his recognizance; a hearing date is set for July 21 in Toledo Municipal Court.
Mick told police that Sarge had bitten him and that Mr. Collins shot the animal because Mick "felt the dog was vicious."
But during an interview with The Blade, Mr. Collins denied that he was the one shooting the dog.
He said Sarge had bitten Mick's girlfriend before, and that he was visiting Mick Friday to help move and reinforce the dog's kennel.
Though Sarge was usually calm around Mick, the presence of two people in such close proximity made the dog feel surrounded, said Mr. Collins, who said he owns two dogs.
The dog started barking and trying to get out of the cage.
"He was busting it open," Mr. Collins said.
"Larry said, 'We have to do something, it's going to get out of the cage.'•"
The bullet-ridden dog was "bleeding profusely" when officers arrived, police reports said. Officers recovered a 25-caliber automatic pistol.
Police said Mr. Collins fled but was arrested shortly afterward. He initially tried to give a false social security number and later admitted to lying because "he knew he had warrants."
Mick also allegedly threatened a neighbor when he said he was going to call police.
Ms. Lyle said Sarge received emergency veterinary care the night of the shooting. Five bullets entered his head or neck and a sixth bullet struck his chest.
The dog is now on antibiotics and pain medicine and doing quite well for having been shot six times, the warden said.
"He's not really in need of special care," she said.
Still, a veterinarian may eventually have to remove one of the bullets that may be irritating an ear. Ms. Lyle said Sarge could remain at the pound at least through the court proceedings.
The animal has yet to display any violent tendencies and has behaved while going outside for walks, she said.
In January, Mick moved into the Federal Street house to live with his girlfriend, Melinda Perry. Ms. Perry said yesterday that Sarge attacked her two weeks ago, but that she allowed Mick to keep the dog because "he loved it."
"He is Larry's dog," she said. "I told him it was up to him."
Ms. Perry said Mick does not own a gun. She added that he has heart problems and diabetes that could make jail time a real danger. According to police reports, Mick carries 320 pounds on his 6-foot-tall frame.
"I'm very worried, the man's ill," she said. "I just think Larry's getting a raw deal."
Ms. Campau, one witness to Friday's shooting, said she often saw Sarge playing outside with a ball or barking.
She had also seen him jump up on the property's fence to try to get out.
"Nobody plays with it, nobody interacts with it," Ms. Campau said. "The dog sat in the kennel all day long."
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