SOMERVILLE — A Somerville man who shot and killed his neighbor’s dog — and was charged with animal cruelty by police — will not face prosecution.

A photo of Spot, an American bulldog who was shot and killed in Somerville in November 2020. Photo Provided

Dannie L. Peaslee Sr., 61, was charged with animal cruelty by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in November 2020, after he admitted he had shot his neighbor’s dog. He told police the dog was in his driveway and that he was afraid it was going to attack him.

Sheriff’s deputies noted in police reports the dog, a large American bulldog named Spot, appeared to have been shot in the rear hip area, which their report said would be inconsistent with Peaslee’s assertion the dog was coming at him.

Lindsay Grady owned the dog, and still has two other American bulldogs with William Poulin, 35, and their family, which includes three kids. She said when Poulin went to court Jan. 28 for a hearing on a charge of allowing a dog to be at large — related to the same incident — he was told that charge had been dropped and the animal cruelty charge against Peaslee had also been dropped. Grady and Poulin are engaged.

Grady said they reached out to the district attorney’s office, but had been unable to get an explanation for what happened.

Chris Fernald, deputy district attorney for Lincoln, Knox, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties, confirmed his office had declined to prosecute either the dog-at-large charge against Poulin or the animal cruelty charge against Peaslee.

He said the assistant district attorney who reviewed the case discussed it with District Attorney Natasha Irving, who is currently on maternity leave, and they both agreed “the shooting of the animal was justified,” because it was on Peaslee’s property.

Fernald also said the incident appeared to be the result of a long ongoing dispute between neighbors. Officials decided there would be no prosecution in the case.

Grady said the family is devastated, both by the loss of their beloved pet and knowing that Peaslee won’t face any consequences. The family said it was an intentional shooting done as retaliation as part of an ongoing dispute between the two neighbors on Valley Road in Somerville, according to Grady.

“The decision not to prosecute Dannie for animal cruelty feels like my heart has been ripped out and stomped on,” she said in an email. “My family and I feel unsafe and continue to be devastated that our beloved, gentle, innocent, family dog Spot has not received the justice he so deserves for being so cruelly executed for the ‘crime’ of belonging to my fiancée, whom Dannie angrily realized he could not sue, i.e. get any money from.”

Augusta attorney Walter McKee, representing Peaslee, said his client shot the dog in self defense.

“It was unfortunate that Dannie had to shoot the dog here,” McKee said by email. “He didn’t want to. But it was him or the dog, and the dog was hyper-aggressive, had attacked people in the past, and was coming right at Dannie when he shot. He had no choice.”

Grady said Spot was friendly to everyone — a big baby, gentle and docile, and she insists the dog “never once hurt anyone.”

A police report on the incident indicated sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene by Peaslee, who reported he had shot a loose dog on his property. When they responded they found a white dog they estimated to be about 100 pounds on the ground next to Peaslee’s driveway, deceased and with a large open wound just forward of his rear hips. The body was about 12 feet from Valley Road and 3 feet from Peaslee’s driveway.

According to the police report, Peaslee said he had exited his house carrying a rifle on his way to go hunting and was walking up his driveway when he saw a dog, which he shot after it began to come toward him. He told police there had been an ongoing issue with Poulin and his dogs, the dogs had been aggressive toward him in the past and he was scared when he saw the dog.

However the report said when police asked if the dog was barking or growling when he saw it, he said it was not. The report said Peaslee was about 25 yards away from where the dog came to rest when he shot.

The family of three young kids and two other dogs got Spot eight years ago. Grady said the children have all spoken to a counselor about what happened to their dog, but still struggle with it. She said their other two dogs, Tanner, with whom Spot had a litter of puppies, and Moose, one of those puppies, have seemed depressed and lethargic since Spot’s death.

“I will take this overwhelming sorrow with me to my grave,” Grady said. “While everyone in our family has protection from harassment orders against Dannie Peaslee Sr., we still feel very unsafe.”

Both sides of the dispute have indeed filed protection orders against the other.

Peaslee, in a protection from harassment order filed at the Lincoln County courthouse, stated Poulin has repeatedly harassed him as the result of their property dispute and has “sicked” his dogs on him multiple times when he has tried to use his property, which surrounds Poulin’s, and his dogs have been on his property on numerous occasions.

Poulin, meanwhile, stated in his protection order versus Peaslee that he had threatened something bad would happen to his family, had dumped a pile of manure 40 feet from their well, and fired gunshots on the woodline less than 200 feet from their home. He also stated their dog being shot by Peaslee has left them fearful for their own lives and the lives of their two other dogs.

Grady said the dispute with their neighbor goes back to when they first moved in three years ago. She said Peaslee came onto their property yelling, saying he built the house and it had been owned by his sister until it was foreclosed upon. She said he claimed their septic tank was on his land, for which he planned to sue them, but which Grady said was later shown by a survey not to be the case.

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