Cumberland Times-News

February 28, 2013

Death of family pet inspires bill to protect animals

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — In early January, Annie — short for Little Orphan Annie — a 40-pound black dog with a red collar, was shot through the heart and killed.

There was a two-day deer season unfolding in Dorchester County and Annie had left her home and owners, Jim and Carole Spicer, and wandered 25 feet onto an adjoining property, 45 feet from a deer hunter’s stand.

These details are in a report filed by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Department and included in a letter written by the Spicers to their state senator, Richard F. Colburn, after they found Annie’s body.

Colburn provided the letter to the Times-News.

Hence Senate Bill 1031 introduced by Colburn at the Maryland General Assembly: “While engaged in hunting or pursuing any wildlife, a person may not intentionally or willfully destroy or damage any ... domesticated animal ... or any stray or feral animal,” the bill reads.

This wording is added to existing law that already makes it illegal to shoot personal property or farm livestock.

The shooting of humans is covered under separate law.

Sgt. Brian Albert of the Maryland Natural Resources Police confirmed Thursday that the only existing law dealing with the killing or wounding of domestic, stray or feral animals is one that allows NRP officers to take down such an animal that is chasing wildlife or disturbing nesting areas.

The Spicers say in their letter they are pretty sure they know who killed Annie.

In fact, that person, when confronted by the Dorchester County deputy, described the dog accurately, but said he didn’t shoot it and didn’t know who did, the police report states.

The deputy consulted with the county’s state’s attorney and concluded that “unless a confession was admitted, no charges would be applicable.”

The Spicers told Colburn they were “calling this story to (his) attention, not because of any gun law, (family members) are lifetime NRA, but because of an uncaring, hard-core individual who shot the family pet and best friend.”

Companion legislation has been introduced by Delegate Rudolph C. Cane (House Bill 1482).

Annie received her full name because the Spicers found her roaming the woods as a pup and took her in. Now, they told Colburn, they hope their pet’s name can be used once more, as in Annie’s Law.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com