This was a terrible mistake. This 68-year-old man, Stephen Nichols Cook, lost control of himself and as a result he may lose his liberty. I don’t think this possibility is out of the question.
The authorities say that a Virginia man, Mr Cook, became a vigilante and took the law into his own hands and killed two Labrador retrievers (Yancey and Maggie May) owned by his neighbour because the dogs had killed one of his cats, Jeffrey. The dogs were in a pick up truck when they were shot.
Other neighbors have witnessed the antagonism between Mr Cook and a nearby property owner Arthur Hamrick which had been fuelled by arguments over Cooke’s cats and Hamrick’s dogs.
The arguments spilled over into violence first by Hamrick’s dogs and then a revenge killing by Cook of those dogs. I wonder if Hamrick deliberately encouraged his dogs to attack Cook’s cat. He says that is allowed to let them roam free because cats are allowed to roam free. That is a poor argument because dogs are far more dangerous to people than cats. There is probably a law against it in Virginia.
Mr Cook has been convicted of two misdemeanour charges in connection with the killings (brandishing a firearm and recklessly handling of a firearm) and the judge has sent felony charges (recklessly shooting at a vehicle and two counts of cruelty to animals) against Cook to a grand jury. It looks as though he might be tried on felony charges which will probably carry a prison sentence on conviction.
Cooke’s attorney said that his client was remorseful and that he was sorry that the dogs had been killed. His behavior should be seen in the context of his grief and the loss of his cat. He has appealed the misdemeamour convictions.
We can understand Mr Cooke’s feelings. I don’t think he would have taken the action that he did if there had not been a long-standing dispute with his neighbor.
UPDATE: COOK GOT THREE MONTHS IN PRISON ON HIS CONVICTION
What the report on wdbj7.com does not discuss (and it should discuss it) is the potentially criminal behaviour of Mr Hamrick in not taking sufficient control of his dogs or setting them upon Cook’s cat.
Vicariously he has committed criminal damage against his neighbour as an item of property of his neighbour has been destroyed in a strict legal sense. I don’t know the law of Virginia with respect to dogs being out of control but there may well be legislation which governs this and which places a responsibility upon dog owners to keep their dogs under control at all times when in public places. Roanoke.com (The Roanoke Times) states that the dogs killed Jeffrey on Cook’s property:
Deborah Cook (Mr Cook’s wife) said that she heard something thump into the outside of the house and looked out a window.
“It was the two dogs. One of them had Jeffrey in his mouth” and was shaking the cat back and forth, she said.
It seems to me that Hamrick also committed a crime. Why hasn’t this been dealt with?
P.S. Sorry there are no pictures of the protagonists to illustrate the article.