Debbie Poore told police that her husband of three weeks called her at work about 6 p.m. Thursday to say that their dog, a 2-year-old Chinese Shar-Pei, had bitten him on the hand -- and that he was going to kill it.
She raced to their Winchester, Va., mobile home, she said, and found Raymond Poore, 43, lying in a pool of blood with a gunshot wound to his abdomen and the dog, still alive, with its throat torn open and gashes on its face.
That was the scene and the mystery police were left to interpret.
Winchester Police Capt. David Sobonya said Raymond "Raven" Poore, a construction worker, apparently was beating the dog on the head with the butt of a rifle-shotgun when it discharged and hit him in the lower abdomen. He said there was dog hair on the butt of the weapon, which has a .22-caliber rifle barrel atop a .410-gauge shotgun barrel and is used to hunt small game.
Poore's death is being considered accidental, according to Lt. Greg Printz, but the investigation remains open while police wait for autopsy results from the Fairfax County medical examiner and other forensic evidence.
"We have not ruled out anything at this point," Printz said.
The dog, a female named Bailey, was destroyed yesterday morning by Frederick County, Va., animal control officers at Debbie Poore's request. The couple had gotten the dog from a friend in Centreville about eight months ago.
"When an owner makes a request for a violent dog to be euthanized, it's granted," said Susan Bobinsky, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which runs the shelter where Bailey was taken Thursday night. In less severe cases, Bobinsky said, animals are given 10 days in which to show improvement in their temperament.
Shar-Peis -- the name means "sand skin" -- are known for their short coats and the loose skin that lies in folds on their faces and bodies. They typically weigh about 50 pounds and are not known to be aggressive, said Joyce Hanes, an officer with the Mid-Atlantic Chinese Shar-Pei Rescue Operation, which has rescued 600 neglected, abandoned and abused Shar-Peis in 13 states.
"In the 20 years I've been in the business, we've had to put three of these dogs down for suspected aggression problems," Hanes said. "These are very protective animals. And, if they growl, they're saying, 'I'm afraid of you.' "
Debbie Poore, a Frederick County, Va., food service employee, said her husband had a history of sparring with the dog. "But I kept telling him, 'You shouldn't play rough with her,' " she said, declining to comment further.
Raymond Poore stood 6 feet 2 inches and weighed 180 pounds with white hair to his shoulders. He was convicted last year in Fauquier County of receiving stolen property, was sentenced in April to 12 months in prison and was released early, according to public records. He had several misdemeanor convictions in Fairfax and Spotsylvania counties.
Kimberly Dodson, who said she dated and lived with Poore in Berryville, Va., for three years until 2001, said she was not surprised to hear that Poore might have beaten his dog, given the way he treated her.
"In the beginning, it was good, [but] he got into alcohol and violence. I would end up with black eyes, and he would choke and head-butt me," said Dodson, a kitchen cabinet builder for American Woodmark in Clarke County, Va. "I heard last Friday that he got out of jail, and I was very nervous."
His mother, Marian Cloud of Nokesville, said it had been two years since she had seen Poore, who celebrated his 43rd birthday Monday. He would call once every few months.
"Raymond was a very intelligent man, but he didn't always use his intelligence in the right way," she said. "He called me earlier this month, saying he got married. It's not that I didn't want to go. He just went out and got married. I am a very distraught mother."
Staff writer Rosalind S. Helderman and researchers Bobbye Pratt and Karl Evanzz contributed to this report.