Prosecutor: Neighbor fired 5 gunshots at couple’s golden retriever puppy

LAKEVILLE, MA (WHDH) - A Lakeville man accused of fatally shooting his neighbors’ golden retriever puppy pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony charge of maliciously killing a domestic animal.

Mark Vassaur, 62, opened fire on 1-year-old Walle on Oct. 8, killing him, authorities allege.

“This defendant discharged his firearm striking Walle, several times your honor, a total of five shots were fired,” prosecutor Patrick Bates said.

Walle’s owners told police that they were outside looking for him after he took off when they heard the gunshots ring out.

Vassaur told officers that he saw Walle near his chicken coop and that he growled and charged at him. Vassaur said he shot and killed the dog because he feared for his safety, according to police.

Mark Vassaur

“I can’t imagine having to defend yourself from a 50-pound golden retriever with a gun,” Kristen Dashner said. “He was the nicest dog.”

A judge ordered Vassaur to stay away from the couple and turn over any firearm that he may own.

Outside court, some neighbors defended Vassuer.

“He’s my neighbor and he’s a good person, that’s what I would say,” one woman said.

Dashner and her boyfriend Timothy Walsh adopted Walle a year ago and were in disbelief that they were in court over his death.

“I feel it’s a complete lack of discretion to discharge a firearm where he did it,” Walsh said. “Like it was the first option as opposed to the last option.”

(Copyright (c) 2018 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)