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Town board member pleads guilty to killing dog

David Nelson

The town of Kinnickinnic board member accused of shooting his neighbor's dog pleaded guilty last week in St. Croix County Circuit Court.

David J. Nelson, 55, entered the plea Dec. 14 to the lone charge he faces — intentional killing of dogs, a misdemeanor. The guilty plea averts a one-day trial originally set for Dec. 19.

Nelson was charged in July after an investigation into the June 23 incident on his County Road SS property. He said at the time that he was within his rights to shoot the dog, Sam, a black Labrador, after it came on his property and reportedly jumped on his son.

The dog's owner, Nelson's neighbor Mike Reihl, refuted allegations that Sam was aggressive and had previously gone after Nelson's calves. St. Croix County sheriff's deputies arrested Nelson after learning he'd shot the dog as it was running away down his driveway. He admitted to firing a third round "to finish the dog off," according to a criminal complaint.

Wisconsin law only allows people to kill dogs if they are threatened with serious bodily harm and if other efforts to restrain the dog have failed.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

Nelson will be sentenced on Thursday, Dec. 21.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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