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Authorities say a 33-year-old accused of fatally shooting a family's pet dog with a bow said the Great Pyrenees had been "ruining his hunt."

Benjamin L. Schroeder, of New Germany, was charged last week with mistreatment of animals, torture — a felony that carries a sentence of up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000, if convicted.

Prosecutors say Schroeder fatally shot the 2-year-old dog Reba on Oct. 12, while out hunting on another person's property in New Germany. Reba belonged to the Swanson family, and had served as their livestock guard dog and a trusted companion after a tragic loss. Owner Bria Swanson had called Reba's death senseless.

A member of the Swanson family found Reba dead around 7:40 p.m. that evening, telling authorities the dog had been shot and killed on neighboring property by a hunter who frequented the spot, the charges state. 

The responding conservation officer found Reba dead in a nearby field, having been shot in the neck with an arrow, and according to the charges authorities identified Schroeder as a suspect.

Investigators spoke to a witness, another hunter who had been in the area at the time of Reba's killing. That hunter said they had seen two dogs run through the evening of Oct. 12, but that they weren't chasing deer or other wildlife, according to the criminal complaint. The hunter watched both dogs run toward an area where Schroder's deer stand was located, then shortly after came back through — only now one of the dogs was injured and appeared to be bleeding, the charges state. 

The dog ran off, and the hunter later found it dead in the field, according to the complaint.

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Authorities got a statement from Schroeder on Oct. 14. According to the charges, in the statement:

  • He admitted to shooting Reba with his compound bow, when the dog went under his deer stand
  • He said the dog had been chasing deer and "ruining his hunt"
  • He left the scene after learning another hunter was nearby

The charges allege Schroeder also said he apologized and  "offered to reimburse Victim for the cost to replace the dog."

Schroeder made his first court appearance Friday morning. Bring Me The News has reached out to his attorney for comment.

Swanson wrote on Facebook two weeks after the dog's death: "Just thinking about our girl tonight… she was wonderful. I wish everyone that has stepped up to support us could have met her."

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