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Charges: Man Tried To Kill Dog With Sledgehammer In Savage

Editor's Note: Charges Contain Graphic Content

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A 71-year-old Savage, Minn. man faces numerous charges after allegedly using a sledgehammer to try and kill his dog last week.

Rudolph William Poppe specifically faces felony counts of animal cruelty and animal torture, one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct and one gross misdemeanor count of obstruction of legal process in connection to the July 12 incident.

The following is according to the criminal complaint:

At 7:16 p.m. on the day of the incident, Savage Police were dispatched to the 13400 block of South Alabama Avenue in Savage on the report of a man beating a dog with a sledgehammer.

When police officers arrived, they saw neighbors -- both adults and children – screaming, crying and pointing to the address where a man was standing in the driveway.

As officers approached the man, later identified as Poppe, they observed a dog, which appeared to be a golden retriever, lying on the ground near the garage door with a white plastic bag tied over its head.

Officers could see a large pool of blood, clumps of fur and body tissue near the dog, which appeared to still be breathing. The officers then told Poppe that he was under arrest.

Officers tried to handcuff Poppe, but he resisted and refused to follow repeated demands to place his hands behind his back. Officers had to force Poppe to the ground and use two sets of handcuffs to restraint him. After more struggling, he was placed inside the back of the police car.

An officer then went back to the dog and took the plastic bag of its head. The officer observed the dog's skull had been cracked open. The dog's face was covered in blood, but its eyes were open and it was still breathing. The dog tried to stand up twice while the officer remained with the dog, waiting for 4Paws to arrive.

A neighbor who witnessed the incident told police that Poppe, who was swearing loudly, brought the dog outside to "put it out of its misery." Despite the neighbor's pleas to bring the dog to the vet to have it put down, Poppe began swinging the hammer into the dog's head. The neighbor saw Poppe hit the dog in the head about 15 times. The neighbor then ran and called 911.

After his arrest, Poppe told police that his dog was old, could barely walk and pooped on his floor, so he took it outside and hit the dog with the hammer. He didn't know how many times he hit the dog, but said he then put the plastic bag over its head to try and finish killing it. He did not answer when asked why he did not bring it to the vet to be euthanized.

The dog was euthanized soon after the incident by a veterinarian at 8:40 p.m.

If convicted of his charges, Poppe could face up to two years in prison for each felony charge, one year for the misdemeanor charge and 90 days for the gross misdemeanor charge.


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