An Appling woman said her family is “devastated” after their pet Labrador mix was shot and killed near their home Thursday by a neighbor.
John Wesley York, 68, of Appling, was charged with cruelty to animals and discharging a firearm on or near a public roadway after shooting the dog, named Dee, with a rifle near the boat ramp on Keg Creek Drive. He was released from the Columbia County Detention Center Thursday on a $4,200 bond, according to jailers.
A witness told authorities he saw a man in a GMC Envoy, which was stopped on Keg Creek Drive, shoot a medium-sized brown dog near the woods and then continue to drive down the road, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident report.
York was soon arrested at a nearby residence, where his SUV was parked.
A blood trail into the woods led authorities to the dog that had died. After finding the address of the dog’s owners on its collar, deputies arrived at Wanda Reese’s home to notify her of the crime.
“I could understand if the dog was trying to attack him or something,” said Reese, whose son found two shell casings at the scene. “That wasn’t her nature.”
According to a statement given to authorities by York, the dog was barking at him and trying to jump on the golf car he was towing with his Envoy.
Deputies could smell alcohol on York’s breath, and he told them he made a drink when he got back to his home.
Reese said Dee, who was about 10 years old, was very friendly and never attacked anybody.
“If you approached her, she would run the opposite direction,” she said.
Reese said she often saw York driving his golf car past her house, and Dee would run behind him until York passed the yard.
“She wouldn’t try to bite him,” Reese said. “She would chase behind the golf car.
“She would chase to the mailbox and then she would stop and come back home. To her, it was just probably a game.”
Dee had been a part of Reese’s family since they found it stranded near their home nearly a decade ago. Dee and her son grew up together, she said.
Reese, who has a house full of rescue pets, said her other dog has also been affected by Dee’s absence.
“She has a little playmate here that misses her greatly,” Reese said. “She got out last night looking for her.”
In coming weeks, Reese said she plans to create a memorial in her yard for Dee and two cats that have recently gone missing.