Controversy Erupts After NH Dog Fatally Shot

(NECN: Lauren Collins, Hampstead, N.H.) - The news resonates through town.

"It'd take a cold hearted person to kill a dog, you know? Especially one that's your neighbor’s," said Brendan LaGasse at the local diner.

Cold hearted or not, it was legal when a Hampstead, N.H. man shot and killed his next door neighbor's dog last weekend.

"I think he could have handled it probably a little bit differently, probably a lot more neighborly," said Hampstead Police Lt. John Fraizer, "but he's within the confines of what the law allows."

That law states "... 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."

Christopher Gibbons told police he awoke Saturday to find a dog clawing at his backyard rabbit cage and scaring his rabbits. It wasn't deterred when Gibbons yelled at it and it didn't go away when he fired a shot from his AR-15 rifle. A second bullet struck the 6-year-old Brittney spaniel. Gibbons said he didn't realize until after that the dog belonged to his next door neighbors, Fred and Judy Galietta. Gibbons' wife declined comment Thursday.

"The last annotations in the statute when we looked at it was 1996," said Lt. Fraizer adding, "We've never had to use it."

The dog's owners, who were too distraught to go on camera, tell NECN they'll work to change that law.

"People should keep their animals contained and they should keep them so that they're not hurting anyone else's property or any of their belongings," said Mikki Black from behind the counter at the local convenience store. But, like most people we talked to in Hampstead, she thinks the law is too vague.

"It's too open-ended that a person can take the life of an animal simply because they've strayed away from their property and are causing a commotion on theirs," Black said.

"Touches a lot of hearts," said LaGrasse. "Dogs are man's best friend, you know?"

But these neighbors are not best friends. The Gibbons told police they had problems in the past with the dog wandering in their yard. The Galiettas have filed a number of complaints over Gibbons firing his rifle.

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