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Man admits fatally shooting neighbor’s therapy dog

April 30, 2020 GMT

MAPLE SHADE, N.J. (AP) — A man who fatally shot his neighbor’s therapy dog last year has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, authorities said.

William Stroemel, 64, of Maple Shade, also pleaded guilty Wednesday to a weapons possession count as part of a plea deal with Burlington County prosecutors. They will recommend that he receive a five-year state prison term when he’s sentenced July 29.

Stroemel used an air rifle to shoot Toby, a 9-year-old Pomeranian-poodle mix, after the dog was escaped from his owner’s home Sept. 17. The dog’s owner is a Vietnam War veteran, and family members have said the animal helped relieve his post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The dog, who was shot in the head, had to be euthanized a day after the shooting.

Authorities have not said why Stroemel shot the animal. They say that after he shot Toby, he gave the air rifle to an acquaintance and asked him to hold it for him.