A Bayfield man fatally shot a family’s Great Dane with an air-powered pellet gun last week as two young girls played nearby, law enforcement said.
Bayfield Marshal Joseph McIntyre cited Wesley Zufelt, 77, last week with misdemeanor animal cruelty after an investigation revealed he fired the pellet that hit his neighbor’s 5-year-old dog, Bailey, and nicked her aorta.
Zufelt shot the dog as she ran loose from his yard to his neighbor’s yard, where the two 4-year-old girls were playing, McIntyre said. The dog was in Zufelt’s yard when she was shot, but Zufelt pointed the gun toward a road and the front yard where the girls were playing, McIntyre said. Had he missed, the shot could have traveled across the road.
“From what (Zufelt) explained, the shot wouldn’t have been at anybody, but it was done in a reckless manner,” McIntyre said.
He was trying to scare the dog, McIntyre said.
Efforts to reach Zufelt for comment were unsuccessful Thursday and Friday.
Bailey was playing in the front yard of Jennifer and Brad Loutherback’s house about 11 a.m. May 15 with their daughter, Grace, and her friend, Brad Loutherback said. Jennifer Loutherback was packing a vehicle with her sister, and the dog was unleashed outside.
Brad Loutherback said Bailey got a case of the “zoomies” – when she “runs like a horse” – and wandered into Zufelt’s yard and onto his porch. He said Zufelt threatened to shoot another one of his pets more than a decade ago, but Loutherback considered it an idle threat.
Zufelt saw the dog and grabbed a pellet gun sitting next to a couch in his north Bayfield home, McIntyre said after speaking with Zufelt.
Zufelt walked to a sliding glass window in the back of his house, opened it and fired the gun at the dog, McIntyre said. The Loutherbacks reported hearing Bailey yelp and seeing her limp as she walked across Tamarack Drive to their North Palo Verde Drive property.
Brad Loutherback said veterinarians at Bayfield Animal Hospital performed surgery for 3½ hours, and by 5:30 p.m. – with five stitches on her heart – Bailey was in stable condition.
But she had lost 2½ liters of blood in the operation, Loutherback said, and veterinarians told him the next 24 hours were critical. Bailey died about midnight with a Bayfield Animal Hospital employee by her side, Loutherback said.
“When we got her, we made a huge commitment to the dog, ourselves and the breeder to have this dog be a member of the family,” Loutherback said. “There was an expectation that this dog would be something special, and she far exceeded the expectations.”