MIDDLEBURY CENTER, Pa. (WETM) – Jason Stefanowicz, a Tioga County man who admitted to shooting two of his neighbor’s dogs because they were harassing his livestock deer, has been charged with two third degree felony counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals.
Stefanowicz was arrested on Nov. 20 and is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in Tioga County on Dec. 17 with Judge James Edgcomb. A third degree felony charge in Pennsylvania can be punishable to 3.5 to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
According to State Police, on Sept. 27, Stefanowicz’s wife called State Police to report that her husband had shot two German Shepherds in their front yard. When State Police interviewed Mr. Stefanowicz, he told them he saw the dogs harassing the deer and that they were injuring themselves inside a fence enclosure.
One of the deer was said to be limping and another was caught in the fence wire. According to State Police, Stefanowicz admitted to using a .22-250 caliber rifle to shooting each dog once.
According to State Police, the dogs were found deceased between 4 and 15 feet from the deer enclosure, and that the fence was damaged. One of the deer was reported to have a bloody nose.
The criminal complaint and affidavit can be found below:
Tanya Smith, the owner of the two dogs, was notified by police that her dogs had been shot after leaving her property. Smith argued that Stefanowicz should have contacted her before shooting the dogs.
On Nov. 30, State Police announced that Smith had been cited for allowing her dogs to run free. Smith tells 18 News that she was not notified by police of the citation.
State Police say that Smith “failed to keep said dog at all times confined within the premises of the owner and/or firmly secure by means of a collar or chain and other device so that it cannot stray beyond the premises of which it is secured and/or under the reasonable control of some person, or when engaged in lawful hunting, exhibition, or viold training, in violation of Sections 305 and 903 of the Dog Law, 3 P.S. 460-305 and 903.”
Smith’s citation can be found below:
According to the legal encyclopedia NOLO, it is legal to shoot the dogs when they are harassing livestock and in the case of it happening, there are two basic rules:
-The livestock owners may legally kill dogs, and they will not be liable if the dog owners sue them.
-Dog owners are financially responsible for the damage their dogs’ cause.