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Bristol man who shot neighbor's dog charged with felony animal cruelty

Union Leader Correspondent

August 01. 2012 7:34PM

BRISTOL - A 5-year-old dog is recovering from a gunshot wound above his right eye and a local man is being charged with felony animal cruelty after shooting the dog on its owner's lawn last week, police said.

Michael Nelson, 36, a resident of Pike's Point Road, has been charged with cruelty to animals, a Class B felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in jail, and criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, for shooting named Australian shepherd mix named Tucker.

Tucker, who is owned by Michael and Lynne Furey, Pasadena, Md., and who were staying at their summer cottage several houses down from Nelson's home, is recovering from a gunshot wound above the right eye, the bullet left the skull through his right ear and then hit the dog's rear right toe, said Lynne Furey.

The dog is suffering from a neurological problem and has trouble keeping its balance, Furey said. The toe also had to be amputated.

Nelson, who was not reachable for comment, told police that he was acting in self-defense when he shot the dog on the Furey's lawn at about 3:30 p.m. Friday as the Fureys and several friends sat inside their home, according to Detective Sgt. Timothy Woodward.

'He claimed it was self-defense, that the dog had come to his yard and wouldn't stop barking, so he chased the dog to the owner's home and pulled out his gun, and shot the dog in the head,' Woodward said.

Nelson legally owned the gun, a 9 mm pistol, Woodward said. But police charged him with a felony after the investigation showed his actions were not warranted.

'If his life had been threatened or even minimally in danger, it might have been justified,' Woodworth said. 'If this was a 100-pound Rottweiler, you might be able to understand it. But this was a 50-55 pound dog. He could have taken any number of other actions.'

The Fureys, who don't know Nelson, said they were sitting with friends at different sides of the house when they heard Tucker barking, and then heard a gunshot, Lynne Furey said.

'My husband came from one side of the house and I came from the other, and we see this man with a gun and our dog is rolling around in a pool of blood,' she said. 'Of course we thought he was dying.'

Nelson looked at the Fureys and told them to call the police. 'He said, 'I just shot your dog,'' she said. 'He said something like, 'he was coming for me so I shot him.''

The Fureys rushed Tucker to an animal hospital in Plymouth. It was recommended that the dog be taken to a Boston veterinary hospital, where his toe was amputated.

He is still having a neurological disorder as the result of the gunshot wound, but is expected to make a full recovery in the coming months, Lynne Furey said.

The couple is still shocked by the shooting, though. 'He followed my dog with a loaded gun to our private property and shot him,' she said.

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