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Man charged in Carver County therapy dog's death told detective "I shot the damn thing"

Minnesota family mourns therapy dog fatally shot
Minnesota family mourns therapy dog fatally shot 01:59

NORWOOD YOUNG AMERICA, Minn. — A 55-year-old man is accused of shooting and killing a family's therapy dog in a small town southwest of the Twin Cities.

The man, who is a neighbor of the victims, was charged with one count of animal torture, according to a criminal complaint filed in Carver County.

The Carver County Sheriff's Office says it received a report on the afternoon of June 15 that a family's dog had been shot and killed in Young America Township.

Arielle Brandenburg told WCCO that her son went to the end of their driveway to grab the mail with their dog, Gus, accompanying him. Less than 10 minutes later, Gus ran up the driveway, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Arielle Brandenburg

Gus went to the vet, where they determined his injuries were too severe and he had to be put down.

Brandenburg says Gus served as her children's therapy dog after they lost their father to suicide a few years ago.

"He knew when my kiddos were having an anxiety attack, when they were grieving hard, and he would go and be the heavy weighted blanket on top of their bodies, and Gus would go everywhere with us," Brandenburg said.

As part of the investigation, detectives spoke with neighbors. During their first conversation with the suspect, he allegedly avoided eye contact and claimed he had not been home at the time of the shooting.

Days later, investigators talked to the suspect's mom who indicated that she had seen Gus on her property more than once. Charges say that she told her son that "if something happens or a dog comes out here then get rid of it."

When a detective went to speak to the suspect again at his workplace, he allegedly stated, "I did it... it was on my yard. I shot the d*** thing."

The suspect later told investigators that he thought Gus was a coyote, but after retrieving his rifle realized it was a dog he believed to have seen on his property before, charges say. He indicated that when he shot at Gus, he tried to aim above his head. Gus then ran into the bushes and he continued to fire into the area.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, get help from the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. Trained crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day to talk about anything. In addition, help is available from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. Call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-6264 or text "HelpLine" to 62640. There are more than 600 local NAMI organizations and affiliates across the country, many of which offer free support and education programs.

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