Animal Welfare Advocates ask for jail time in the shooting death of a dog in Cass County


April 3rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Saying “It’s time for the courts to take animal abuse seriously,” animal welfare advocates have written a letter to the Cass County Attorney, asking him to prosecute to the full extent of the law, a Marne man charged in the shooting of a dog that strayed onto his property last year. Lin Sorenson and Becky Fetters of the Des Moines based St. Francis Foundation for Pets have requested that Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner recommend to the judge that he enforce the law and sentence 56-year old Charles Collins Cutler to a minimum of 30 days in jail, and for him to pay $6,250 in fines , along with restitution to the pet’s owner.

Cutler faces an Aggravated Serious Misdemeanor charge of Animal Abuse, and a Serious Misdemeanor charge of a Reckless Use of a Firearm, in connection with the shooting of a dog which strayed onto his property on December 24th, 2012. Cutler pleaded not guilty to both charges. His trial, which was to have been held last month, was instead continued until April 16th, and will be held in Cass County District Court. Cutler’s request for a change of venue, was denied.

According to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the incident began when a dog owned by 23-year old Stacy Ernat from Denver, CO, was shot when it strayed onto Cutler’s property. Ernat told authorities her chocolate Labrador “Wrigley,” was playing with a relative’s dog in the church lot adjacent to Cutler’s residence, when the dog ran onto his property and was wounded by a shotgun blast fired from a distance of 30-to 40-feet. The dog was treated, but succumbed to injuries, at the Atlantic Animal Health Center.

The animal welfare group says “It is time for the prosecuting attorney and the judge to demonstrate how serious the courts take animal abuse and to let other animal abusers know that this behavior has severe consequences.”