Off-duty cop charged after neighbor's dog is shot with a pellet gun

(Image credit: KSDK News)

An off-duty former county sheriff's deputy has been charged with a misdemeanor following the death of a neighbor's three-year-old dog.

Ryan Kuehner is alleged to have used a pellet gun to shoot a Spanish Mastiff called Apollo in Cottleville, St Charles County, Missouri, US.

He has now been charged with animal abuse, a class A misdemeanor. The incident took place on the afternoon of May 22, 2022.

According to Apollo's owner, Erica Hansen, the dog was found to be coughing, foaming at the mouth and collapsing. 

Her husband, Eric Bacon, took Apollo to the vet where X-rays revealed pellet wounds in the dog's lungs. Hansen had originally feared the dog had been bitten by a snake.

When returning home, the family sought to discover what had happened. In a heated exchange filmed by the dog's owner and shared on Facebook, Bacon is seen quizzing a neighbor, asking if he owned a pellet gun.

The man identifies himself as a St Charles County Sheriff's deputy and asks Bacon what the dog was doing in his yard. He also asks Bacon whether or not the dog is a Pit Bull.

The shooting incident was reported to the St Charles police, animal control and the Sheriff. The prosecutor's office requested a special prosecutor be appointed to review the case. 

In a statement, St. Charles County Sheriff Scott Lewis said: "Mr. Bacon filed a written complaint against Kuehner with the Sheriff’s Office. 

“I directed an internal investigation to be conducted. Upon my review of that report, I sustained Mr. Bacon’s complaint and initiated disciplinary proceedings and Kuehner resigned effective 06-17-2022. 

“I met with Mr. Bacon last week and informed him of the conclusion of his complaint and again apologized for his and his family’s loss of Apollo."

David Crookes

David Crookes has been a journalist for more than 20 years and he has written for a host of magazines, newspapers, websites and books including World of Animals, BBC Earth, Dogs and Canines, Gadget and The Independent. Born in England, he lives in a household with two cats but he’s also keenly interested in the differences between the huge number of dog breeds — in fact, you can read many of his breed guides here on PetsRadar. With a lifelong passion for technology, too, he’s always on the lookout for useful devices that will allow people to spend more time with their pets.