A New Hampshire man arrested for a hit-and-run that killed a veteran's service dog last weekend made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon in Springvale, Maine.
Jesse Gosselin, 23, of Dover, New Hampshire, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident and driving under a suspended license.
Police say Gosselin was driving a car down Cemetery Road in Berwick, Maine, Saturday afternoon, and hit a dog standing next to a mailbox. Gosselin allegedly told police he was distracted and veered off the road, hitting the service dog. He reportedly told them he did not stop because he had a suspended license, and and there was already a warrant out for his arrest for failure to pay a fine.
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"That's what hurts the most," said Brian Drake, owner of service dog, Sophie. "A dog like that is gone for good, and the young man had no integrity to stop."
A judge set Gosselin's bail at $500, an amount Drake said is disgracefully low.
"You'd think a dog of that caliber would get more respect from the penal system," said Drake.
The American Legion Post #79 is raising money to help Drake get a new service dog, but he knows Sophie will never be replaced.
He got her when she was a puppy, and said she has been a loyal protector and therapy dog for seven years.
"The connection and bonding of raising a puppy, having a family companion like that, you just can't go and buy that," he said.
A family friend has set up a memorial outside the Drake's home in Berwick. They have also created a donation collection bin, where people can drop off items for local animal shelters in Sophie's name.
Gosselin has pleaded not guilty to the charges.