A Florida man has been arrested after he allegedly shot his neighbors’ dog dead, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheldon Keith Hayward, 65, was apprehended after his neighbors reportedly let their dogs out into their Sorrento backyard, on Saturday, July 22, unaware the gate was open. When the owners went to look for their pets, they found one of the dogs had been shot in the head, according to NBC affiliate WESH.
The owners told deputies that the dog was found 5 feet from the road and was not close to Hayward’s home. They added that the animal died afterward.
A second dog, a service animal, was shot in the head and was later taken to a pet hospital. The owners told law-enforcement officers, when they went to get the surviving dog, Hayward pointed his gun at them.
An arrest report obtained by WESH stated Hayward told officers the dogs were “aggressive” and leaped up onto his fence. He also said that he shot at the animals from his porch. Law enforcement did not tell the network which breed the two canines were.
Newsweek has found Hayward’s Lake County inmate profile, which states he was accused of multiple felonies.
Hayward was charged on Sunday, July 23, with two counts of cruelty to animals, third-degree felonies, and one count of felon in possession of firearm and ammunition, a second-degree felony.
Hayward’s bond total is set at $150,000, and he is next expected in court on August 14, 2023, according to the inmate information.
Experts at Florida legal firm Roger P. Foley say that a person found guilty of cruelty to animals can result in up to five years in prison as well as a $5,000 fine: “A second conviction of this crime will result in a minimum mandatory $5,000 fine and jail time of 6 months.”
Law firm Goldman Wetzel, also based in the Sunshine State, states that a person found guilty of the charge felon in possession of a firearm can face up to 15 years in jail, as well as upward of $10,000 in fines.
The legal firm adds: “There is a three-year minimum mandatory sentence for felons who were found in actual possession of a firearm.
“However, if the prior conviction or this current offense were committed to benefit or promote a criminal gang, charges will be enhanced to a first-degree felony. In this case, the punishment should not exceed life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.”
Newsweek has contacted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office for comment via its Instagram page.