A Fairfield Township man who shot at a neighbor's two dogs May 29, 2011 - killing one and injuring another - was sentenced to 10 months in the Lycoming County Pre-Release Center and three years of intensive probation supervision Tuesday in Lycoming County Court by Judge Marc F. Lovecchio.
Randy E. Feigles, 36, of 715 Harris Lane, was found guilty by a jury March 13 of two counts of animal cruelty. During the trial, Feigles said two small dogs came toward him several times while he was mowing his lawn. He told a Lycoming County SPCA humane officer that he felt threatened by the dogs and that he was being attacked.
He also testified he feared for the safety of his wife and young child.
After throwing rocks at the dogs in an attempt to scare them away, Feigles retrieved a 9mm handgun from his vehicle and fired warning shots into a grassy area to scare the dogs away. The dogs, Sadie and Lucky, returned again, and that's when Feigles said he shot at both of them.
Sadie suffered fatal wounds, but Lucky survived despite being hit.
Dog owners Kevin and Lora Sullivan said their dogs, which weighed less than 20 pounds each, would never hurt anyone. Present during Feigles' sentencing, Lora said the incident has devastated her family's life.
"To lose her was like losing a member of the family," she said. "There are no words to describe how special she was to us."
An emotional Feigles told Lovecchio "it was a horrible thing. I've never had to defend myself like that."
He said the dogs appeared like they were covered in filth and assumed their owners had turned them loose in the woods.
"They didn't look like they lived in a home," he said.
Although the dogs were wearing collars with their identification and owners' information, Feigles said "there was no way I could look at (the) collars."
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Kalaus urged Lovecchio to weigh the violent nature of the crime and impact on the Sullivans.
"Too many states treat dogs like property," she said, likening pets to a household object such as a chair.
"Because it's an animal it's a misdemeanor and it's cruelty to animals," said Kalaus, who asked the judge to consider a one- to two-year prison sentence.
Feigles' wife Tiffany, who is expecting the couple's second child, said taking her husband to prison would be a punishment for her entire family.
"We have been living with this for a year now. My husband is not a bad person. He's not an animal hater," she said. "He would not do anything to hurt them intentionally."
Lovecchio said the case was a difficult one for him as a judge.
"I couldn't for the life of me understand what would cause this to happen," he said. "These were little tiny dogs. I just can't imagine why you would shoot them."
The judge said Feigles' anger must have taken over.
"You decided to take anger out in the worst possible way you could do it. The Sullivans are lucky they don't have two dead dogs instead of one," he said.
Lovecchio also said he did not see remorse on Feigles' behalf.
"I don't see an acceptance that you did anything wrong," he said.
Feigles' sentence included a deadly weapon enhancement due to the use of a firearm, which his defense attorney, George E. Lepley, said would be appealed.
The sentence allows Feigles to be eligible for work release.
He also was ordered to pay $1,234 in restitution to the Sullivans and to serve 100 hours community service with an animal-related organization.
Lovecchio also ordered Feigles to undergo specific counseling for animal abusers.