When Ruger limped up to the house, his owners could tell something was wrong.
“Ruger’s been shot,” Jackie Dukart said, according to the Riverfront Times, as she saw the trail of blood dripping behind her 6-year-old dog on Oct. 4
After wrapping the bleeding dog in towels, Dukart drove from her home in Manchester, Mo. — outside of St. Louis — to a nearby veterinary’s office, the Riverfront Times reported. A passing police car escorted her there, lights and siren blazing, the Times reported.
But it was too late, and Ruger died just hours later.
There was still one big unanswered question, though: Who shot Ruger?
The answer was already starting to be revealed by the time Ruger had died and Dukart arrived home with her partner, Bob Holtz, who had adopted the rescued Australian cattle dog five years before.
When the couple pulled up to their home, police were talking to their neighbor, 62-year-old Barry Armfield, a retired St. Louis police officer, the Riverfront Times reported.
At first, Armfield told police he had nothing to do with it, Fox 2 reported.
“Armfield stated that he heard what he believed to be a transformer or something had blown up,” according to a police report reviewed by Fox 2.
But on the ground, officers found a trail of blood — fresh blood — and dog hair, police said. That trail led them from Dukart and Holtz’ home to the driveway of the retired cop who lived just down the block, Fox 2 reported.
Eventually, Armfield confessed to police, telling them he felt “threatened” by the dog and shot it in self-defense, according to KMOV.
Armfield was charged on Tuesday with misdemeanor animal abuse in connection with the shooting, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“We believe there wasn’t any reason to shoot the dog,” St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Ed Magee told the Post-Dispatch.
Armfield told the Post-Dispatch that the dog approached him in his driveway and cornered him inside his garage, just as he was unpacking from a camping trip he’d taken.
“It wouldn’t back down,” Armfield told the newspaper. “It kept coming at me. I had no other place to go. It came out of nowhere and scared the bejesus out of me.”
That’s when Armfield says he shot the dog with .40 caliber commemorative pistol, a police report reviewed by Fox 2 said.
But the dog’s owners dispute that account.
“I’m not denying he would bark, dogs bark,” Dukart told KMOV. But she said “he was never aggressive. I’ve never seen it. Ruger has lots of friends, the neighborhood knows Ruger.”
If you ask Ruger’s owners, they’ll tell you a misdemeanor charge for the death of their dog is an injustice.
“It’s a misdemeanor. I don’t think that’s enough,” Dukart told Fox 2. “It’s like he’s getting away with it.”
Armfield told the Post-Dispatch that it’s the dog’s owners’ fault because they dog got off their property.
“It’s just amazing that with an aggressive animal, I’m the one that is being charged when I’m not the one who let the dog out,” Armfield told the Post-Dispatch.