A southern Minnesota homeowner was charged with a felony for shooting and killing a dog because he believed it was peeing on his trees.
Brian J. Johnson, 63, of Good Thunder, was charged in Blue Earth County District Court last week with animal cruelty and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 30.
“I have mixed feelings, but I want justice for my dog and what he did,” said Carrie Dolsen, who adopted Diesel as a rescue puppy about four years ago. “He was our kid.”
Jim Kuettner, Johnson’s attorney, said, “The dog was repeatedly coming onto Mr. Johnson’s property and [urinating], and the owner was not doing anything about it.”
According to the criminal complaint, a witness approached a police officer midafternoon on June 3 and said there was a dog on Willard Street that appeared to be ill. The officer found the dog vomiting and took the dog to its home.
Two days later, police were notified by the Dolsen family that the dog had died, and a week later they were told that Diesel had been shot in the abdomen with a pellet gun.
Acting on a tip, police spoke with Johnson, who admitted shooting Diesel because “he was sick of the dog always coming into his yard and urinating on his trees,” the complaint read.
Police saw that one area of one of the trees appeared to be dying, but Johnson could not say whether Diesel’s urine was the cause.
Johnson added that he believed Diesel was an aggressive breed of dog and might harm his grandchildren but never saw such behavior from the dog.
Dolsen said “there’s no pit bull in him” or any other breed known for its aggressiveness. “He’s afraid of his own shadow.”
Johnson and Dolsen live about a block apart and have had interactions before over her dog and his, she said. His Yorkie has gotten loose “and I have returned his dog to him several times,” she said.
Court records in Minnesota show that Johnson was convicted of disorderly conduct in 2013 and convicted in 1994 for making a harassing phone call. In 1996 he was charged with violating a harassment order. Those charges were later dismissed.
Dolsen owns the Dakota Mart in town, and Diesel’s regular presence there made him a local celebrity of sorts.
Diesel didn’t like being left home while Dolsen went to the store, so he’d often make the 4-block trek and “come right around the building as if he’s saying, ‘I’m here for work.’ ”
The loss of a family dog has now gripped the Dolsen family for the second time this year. The family adopted a puppy in hopes of easing Diesel’s anxiety. In February, Chewbacca, a five-month-old husky and German shepherd mix, followed Diesel on an unexcused absence from their home.
“I found Diesel right away,” Dolsen said, “but we never found Chewbacca.”