Local News

Authorities: Lee County man had legal right to shoot neighbor's dog on his property

Posted May 12, 2016 6:15 p.m. EDT
Updated May 12, 2016 6:27 p.m. EDT

— The owners of a Lee County dog who was shot to death over a dead chicken said their neighbor went too far in protecting his property. Now, the family said they’re angry the man won’t face any charges.

Bella was a husky who played with the Cox family’s 7-year-old son and opened gifts on Christmas morning. Her owners, Ron and Jessica Cox, said in June, a neighbor came by their home on Mill Pond Road with a dead chicken and a warning that if the dog stepped onto their property again, she would be killed.

The neighbor’s property, with its chicken pens, adjoins the Coxes’ backyard. The couple said, in response to the warning, they put up a wooden fence and installed an electric wire to keep Bella from getting out.

“Unfortunately, Sunday or Monday, her collar batteries went dead,” Ron Cox said.

On Tuesday, Ron Cox said Bella managed to dig beneath the fence and wire and wandered next door while Jessica Cox was in the kitchen.

“I heard one single gunshot. I looked out my kitchen window and I saw Bella laying there on the ground,” she said.

Jessica ran outside and saw that her husky had been shot between the eyes.

“I was in complete shock and I asked him, or yelled at him, ‘how could you kill my dog’ and he held up his chicken and said ‘this is how’,” Jessica Cox said.

At that point, she said her neighbor hurled Bella’s body over the fence.

Nobody answered the door at the home Thursday, but a Lee County sheriff’s report says the neighbor saw the dog inside his fenced yard, grabbing a chicken, when he took aim.

A deputy who responded to the incident told Jessica Cox that the man “has a legal right to protect his property.” The man is protected by state statute and the Lee County Sheriff's Office said there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

State law allows a person to kill an animal to protect other animals or property but the Coxes said their neighbor didn’t have to kill Bella.

“If we had to buy a hundred chickens for the one, we would have done it,” Ron Cox said. “They never gave us a chance.”

Lee County Sheriff's Captain John Holly said that the neighbor reported two chickens had been killed by the dog before Tuesday's incident. The sheriff's report also states that the neighbor has previously called Animal Control to get the dog off of his property.