Man charged with killing husky at Severn dog park

By Andrea F. Siegel
Thursday, August 19, 2010

The owner of a Siberian husky that was shot in a Severn dog park two weeks ago said she is pleased that charges have been filed against the man who killed Bear-Bear, adding that she hopes laws might be changed because of her pet's death.

"It will be really beautiful if out of all of this, animal cruelty penalties increased because of Bear-Bear," Rachel Rettaliata said.

Charges were filed Wednesday in District Court in Annapolis against Keith Elgin Shepherd, 32, a civilian police officer for the Army in Northern Virginia. He faces two misdemeanors: animal cruelty and discharging a firearm within 100 yards of an occupied home.

"I can't say that I am surprised that charges were brought, and we are looking forward to challenging this in court," said David Putzi, Shepherd's attorney.

"My client maintains his innocence," Putzi added.

The charges were brought against Shepherd 16 days after the shooting at a private dog park. Shepherd and his wife had taken their German shepherd, Asia, to the park. Steven Ryan Kurinij, Rettaliata's brother, had taken Bear-Bear there that night.

According to an initial police report, Shepherd said that Bear-Bear attacked Asia and then menaced him. He also told police that Kurinij did not act on his calls to intervene, so he shot Bear-Bear and called 911.

The Rettaliata family has disputed Shepherd's account. Rachel Rettaliata said her brother told her that the dogs were playing and that before he could respond to Shepherd's request, Shepherd fired his weapon.

The husky died a few hours later at a veterinary hospital. After veterinarians started emergency surgery, they said the dog could not be saved, and Bear-Bear was euthanized.

-- Baltimore Sun

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