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Neighbor shoots and kills dog because he thought it looked like a pit bull

WEST PARIS (WGME) -- A West Paris man faces cruelty to animal charges for shooting and killing his neighbor's dog. The man, who admits shooting the dog, says he thought it looked like a pit bull and feared for his family's safety.

Kevin Newton may be a tough Maine logger, but he gets choked up thinking about what happened to his dog. He says Jake was a lovable 13 year old Boxer mix and a part of the family. Neighbors say he was as friendly as can be.

Neighbor Adam Sessions says "That dog wouldn't harm a fly. He hangs out with my dog. I never had one issue with him in a year and a half." Newton would often let his dog out to roam freely. He says he mostly stayed in his yard.

But the last time he let Jake out, the dog wandered through a cemetery to the McCann's home. Steve McCann told the Animal Control Officer the dog didn't have a collar, looked like a pit bull, and was acting erratically.

McCann said he didn't want to shoot the dog but thought of his wife and young son and pulled the trigger. Afterwards, Kevin Newton went around asking neighbors if they'd seen Jake. He says at first, McCann denied seeing him.

"But as I was searching later that day", Newton says, "He came up to me and said he shot him for being in his yard." Animal Control Officer Ozzie Hart says McCann didn't call police and didn't realize there was animal control in town.

Hart says McCann took matters into his own hands. Ozzie Hart is the Animal Control Officer in West Paris and seven other Oxford county towns. He says McCann told him they drove home, saw the dog in their yard and went inside.

Hart says according to McCann, the dog made no threats. He says "It didn't try to attack him or anything. It just stayed right there by his house." We asked "When he got the gun out, didn't it try to run away?" Hart replied "Yes, it did."

Dog owner Kevin Newton says "I guess Steve told him he shot him five times. The first shot didn't kill him, so he shot him four more." One neighbor said "I'd be furious." Steve McCann wasn't home and hasn't returned our calls.

As for Jake, Kevin Newton found his body and buried him in his yard. He says "I got a boy.  He's just over two there and he asks questions. And try to tell him he went to doggie heaven and he really doesn't get it."

There is no ordinance against discharging a firearm in West Paris. However, under Maine state law, it is unlawful to discharge a firearm within 100 yards of a home without permission of the owner.