HAMPSTEAD, NH (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) A New Hampshire man is accused of shooting and killing a neighborhood dog last Saturday after it wandered into his yard and began barking at his rabbits.
Christopher Gibbons of Hampstead told police he used his .223-caliber AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to shoot his neighbor's 6-year-old Brittany spaniel because it was barking and running around the cage that houses his two rabbits.
Hampstead Police reportedly investigated the shooting and decided that it was legal.
New Hampshire law states, "Any person may kill a dog that suddenly assaults the person while such person is peaceably walking or riding without the enclosure of its owner or keeper; and any person may kill a dog that is found out of the enclosure or immediate care of its owner or keeper worrying, wounding, or killing sheep, lambs, fowl, or other domestic animals."
The dog's owners are looking to have the word "worrying" removed from the law. They say their dog, Sadie, was shot in retaliation because they have complained about Gibbons' late night target shooting.
Sadie's owners also plan to file a civil suit.
State legislators attempted to amend the bill to remove the term in 2008, but the bill's status is listed as "House inexpedient to legislate" on the New Hampshire Liberty Union Alliance's website.
Massachusetts has a similar law that includes the term "worrying" as well. The bill reads in-part:
"Any person may kill a dog which suddenly assaults him while he is peaceably standing, walking or riding outside the enclosure of its owner or keeper; and any person may kill a dog found out of the enclosure of its owner or keeper and not under his immediate care in the act of worrying, wounding or killing persons, live stock or fowls, and if any person shall kill or attempt to kill a dog so found, and in the act of worrying, wounding or killing persons, live stock or fowls, he shall not be held liable for cruelty to the dog unless it shall be shown that he intended to be cruel to the dog, or that he acted with a wanton and reckless disregard for the suffering of the dog."
To read the proposed NH amendment: gencourt.state.nh.us
To read the entire Mass. law: malegislature.gov