Dog shooting within Alexandria city limits devastates familyHe looked at her with soulful, brown eyes. “Why would someone hurt me?” his sad, gentle face seemed to ask. Not much more than a pup, 2-year-old Vladimire, a black Lab German shorthair mix, was gunned down not far from his Alexandria home.
By: Wendy Wilson, Alexandria Echo Press
He looked at her with soulful, brown eyes.
“Why would someone hurt me?” his sad, gentle face seemed to ask.
Not much more than a pup, 2-year-old Vladimire, a black Lab German shorthair mix, was gunned down not far from his Alexandria home.
It was about 7 p.m. Friday, June 17, when playful Vlad trotted away from home, according to his owners, Matt Faust and Erin Miller.
About five minutes later, Vlad returned and collapsed in the family’s yard. He was coughing and spitting up blood.
“He looked really scared,” Matt said. “He didn’t know what was going on.”
Matt, and his mother, Lisa Faust, and two other friends raced Vlad to a veterinary clinic for emergency care.
Vlad struggled to breathe and was drawing in raspy breaths, according to Lisa.
“His tongue was hanging out and he was bleeding everywhere,” she said.
They took Vlad to Glacial Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Glenwood where he was treated by Dr. Danielle Renstrom and Dr. Jean Hollenstein.
Vlad’s twin brother, Edward, waited in the parking lot in a truck. The family adopted the siblings when they were puppies.
“They are totally connected,” Lisa said.
When Vlad was brought into the veterinarian’s office, they could hear Edward crying in the truck for Vlad, so they brought him inside, too. While Vlad lay on the examination table, Edward stood on two legs, put his paws up on the table and put his head on Vlad.
X-rays taken at the clinic revealed that a bullet fired from a .22-caliber firearm or a BB shot from close range had pierced Vlad’s left lung, causing internal bleeding and risking a complete collapse of the lung, according to Renstrom.
“He had a pneumothorax because of that penetrating foreign body coming in – the bullet,” Renstrom said. “Lung sounds when we listened to his chest were a little bit harsh,” due to the blood in his throat, she explained.
The bullet could have hit his heart.
“If it had been on the other side, he would have been dead,” Lisa said.
Vlad’s outlook looked grim.
“They said chances were slim that he would make it through the night,” Erin said. “But Vladimire is a young, strong dog with a lot of love around him.”
Erin stayed awake with him.
“Watching him struggle to breathe was the hardest thing to do,” she said. “He would wake up every half hour, put his paw in my lap, turn to check on Matt and lie back down to sleep.”
“Things could have gone downhill very easily,” Renstrom said. “This dog is very lucky to be doing as well as he is.”
The veterinarians left the bullet lodged inside Vlad’s lung.
“They are hoping the scar tissue will surround it and hold it where it’s at,” Lisa said. “If it were to move, it could not be so good.”
Vlad was given antibiotics and medications to stop the bleeding and ease his pain. He was placed on a diet of soft foods. The entire family is reeling from the tragedy.
“It affected everybody in the house,” Lisa said. “He is just like a grand kid. He’s just the biggest baby.”
The family cannot understand why a person would attack a defenseless animal.
“Vladimire is kind of that strong, silent type,” Lisa said. “He’s a lover, not a fighter.”
While Vlad continues to recover physically, the emotional trauma caused by the attack lingers.
“Vlad is a little more suspicious of people who come near him,” Lisa said, as the brothers gently nuzzled up to her in the family’s living room.
“These dogs have never hurt anyone or anything,” she said.
And Erin asked, “If you can shoot an innocent dog who is just trying to get some attention, and shoot him point blank… what else are you capable of?”
Renstrom said she was unaware of the circumstances surrounding the shooting, but she adamantly discouraged people from using violence against animals to settle disputes.
“If there is an issue with someone and their dog, I would rather see it solved through good communication rather than using a weapon like that,” she said.
Erin and Lisa believe the person who shot the dog knows him. After the incident, the family filed a report with the Alexandria Police Department.
“My first concern is that Vlad will be OK,” Erin said. “My second, is that the people who did this to him will be held responsible.”
Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson noted that animals may be targeted because they cannot testify against their abusers and are easily victimized.
“It is a pretty cowardly act to take out aggression on an animal,” Larson said. “Cruelty and violence, whether against people or animals, should not be tolerated in our community. My office takes these cases very seriously and will prosecute whoever is responsible once the evidence surfaces.”
Cruelty to animals may be prosecuted as misdemeanor or felony offenses in Minnesota under the animal cruelty statute, punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, depending on the extent of harm, according to Larson.
“Claiming that you didn’t know that the animal was a pet is no excuse under Minnesota law,” Larson said, and added, “Fortunately, we are not seeing a lot of these kinds of cases in Douglas County.”
Anyone with information on this crime should contact the Alexandria Police Department, (320) 763-6631.
Studies have shown a correlation be-tween acts of violence against animals and violent crimes against people.
“Animal cruelty and animal fighting are not isolated crimes,” Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler said in a state-ment to the U.S. Humane Society and published in First Strike: The Violence Connection. “Children exposed to these activities are at a greater risk of becom-ing perpetrators or victims of crimes of violence.”
The Massachusetts Society for the Pre-vention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and Northeastern University tracked 153 individuals prosecuted for intentional animal cruelty by the MSPCA for 20 years. The statistics were chilling.
“When compared to their next-door neighbors, people who abused animals were five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people,” the report said. “Seventy percent of the people who committed violent crimes against ani-mals also had criminal records for violent, property, drug, or disorder crimes.”