Christchurch man shot pet dog in anger

ANIMAL CRUELTY: In August this bull terrier cross was found tied to a post on the riverbank near West Melton. It had been shot in the head several times.
ANIMAL CRUELTY: In August this bull terrier cross was found tied to a post on the riverbank near West Melton. It had been shot in the head several times.

A Hornby man says he fired five or six shots into the head of his $1000 hunting dog after tying it to a fence post when it "bailed" his four-year-old daughter as though it was hunting.

Christchurch District Court Judge Colin Doherty will give his reserved decision on 25-year-old Adam Blain Milne's actions on Friday. He has already heard the evidence on the SPCA prosecution of the dog owner.

Milne left the dog slumped against the fence post on the Waimakariri riverbank near West Melton on August 6. It was not moving and he thought it was dead after so many shots to the head.

But the dog, a Staffordshire terrier named Bully, was still alive and after it was found by a member of the public it had to be euthanised by a veterinarian because of its injuries.

Milne, a self-employed electrician, denied the charge of ill-treating the animal.

"I took no joy in doing it. He was part of the family," Milne told the court.

He told of being at the riverbank with his daughter and the dog. Bully was tied to the back of the ute while Milne was shooting targets. The dog was about six months old. He had bought it from a breeder for $1000 as a hunting dog and for breeding.

The dog had "bailed" his daughter, causing scratch marks on her face, possibly where he had pawed her. "He backed her into a corner and held her at bay. If he wasn't tethered I don't know how far he would have gone."

Milne then drove the dog a short distance, with his daughter in the vehicle, and tied it to a fence post on a short lead, before shooting it repeatedly. After the third shot, the dog dropped. Milne looked away as he fired the last two shots because he did not want to look into the dog's eyes. The series of shots with the semi-automatic .22 rifle took 10 to 12 seconds.

"I remember my daughter screaming in the car seat," he told the court.

Cross-examined by SPCA prosecutor Chris Shannon, Milne said: "I was angry. If he had got my daughter would he have shown her any remorse at the time?"

He also acknowledged he was not thinking clearly. "At the time I was concerned for my daughter's safety."

Milne said he was a hunter, who used the rifle for hunting rabbits and possums. He did hunt pigs, but he did that with dogs and knives. He had previously shot another dog, near the Hurunui River, because it was attacking stock.

SPCA animal welfare inspector Geoffrey Sutton said he had found two .22 cartridge cases near the scene of the shooting. He had put down many animals himself, and always used a ..223 rifle because the charge and the power in the shot was much greater and that meant it was more likely to kill the animal with a single shot to the head.

He acknowledged that the hollow point bullets Milne used would have increased the damage done by the shots but this did not make up for using the lower-powered rounds.

Defence counsel Andrew McKenzie argued that Milne had taken "all reasonable steps" to prevent the dog suffering. The legislation called for him to take all reasonable steps, and not all possible steps.

Judge Doherty said he felt there were "subtleties" in the issues in this case and he wanted time to consider them before giving his decision.

The Press