The man who repeatedly hit his elderly dog over the head with a sledgehammer last summer, saying he was trying to put it “out of its misery,” was sentenced this week to 90 days in jail and five years on probation.
About two dozen supporters of Justice 4 Millie, a group that sprang up after Rudolph Poppe was charged with felony animal cruelty for beating the 13-year-old golden retriever, attended the sentencing hearing Tuesday in Scott County District Court in Shakopee.
Afterward, some lauded District Judge Rex Stacey for going above and beyond the usual sentence for animal cruelty. Others called it simply a slap on the wrist.
Poppe, 71, pleaded guilty Oct. 30 to one count of animal cruelty and one of obstructing the legal process, a gross misdemeanor. Two other charges were dismissed.
According to the charges, police were called to Poppe’s home shortly after 7:15 p.m. July 12. There they found the dog with a white plastic bag tied over its head in the driveway. The dog had a crushed skull and was covered in blood, but it was breathing and twice tried to stand up while an officer waited with it for a rescue group to arrive and take it to the vet. The dog was euthanized about 8:40 that night.
Poppe’s neighbor told police that he saw Poppe hit the dog over the head with the large hammer about 15 times and saw the dog’s head split open. The neighbor said that he and others at the scene pleaded with Poppe to let them take the dog to the vet to be euthanized.
“Defendant said he had to put his dog out of its misery,” the complaint said. After he was arrested, Poppe told police that his dog was old, could barely walk and pooped on the floor.
He didn’t say anything when police asked him why he didn’t take the dog to the vet to be put down.
On Tuesday, Poppe was given a two-year stayed prison sentence. That will be hanging over his head if he violates the conditions of his probation. He was given credit for the 24 days he has spent in custody and ordered to report to jail Jan. 7 to serve the remainder of his time. He also was given a $500 fine. While on probation, he must not drink alcohol and cannot own any other animals for five years.
Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284