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Residents: Man Shoots Dogs, Gets Away With It

heidiho
November 3rd, 2006, 03:42 PM
ELK CITY, Kan. -- Residents say a man has been shooting dogs for 20 years, in some cases neighbors' dogs. Even though Kansas has made shooting dogs a felony offense, the fine print of Scruffy's Law means the man in question may not be committing a crime, KMBC's Lara Moritz reported.

"I know my first dog was killed at 11. I know dogs through the years have been killed. They've been shot, they've been thrown out here in the river. It's always been a problem. It's always been around this town," Elk City Mayor Michele McElwain said.

"Everybody knows if your dog goes over there, there's a chance he's not coming back," pet owner Lori McGraw said.


For 20 years, residents have accused Gordy Morse of shooting dogs in the head, Moritz reported.

"Everybody knows he does it. Everybody knows. But how can you do anything about it when you don't have the backing of your law enforcement?" McElwain said.

Several people, including Mary DeVore, have rescued dogs from attempted shootings.

"First, they told me (the dog) was shot in the head. I spent eight days trying to catch him running around town," DeVore said.

DeVore has nursed other dogs who have been shot. There is Bob, who is blind, Cleo, who was shot in the leg, and across town, there is Capone, who was shot in the head.

"I gave him antibiotics and Tylenol and loved him. Can't even tell ... barely. We all know, we all know he got shot," DeVore said.

McElwain's daughter found their family dog shot, too.

"My daughter finds it underneath a vehicle, so we knew what had happened," McElwain said.

Moritz reported that Morse agreed to talk to her and she said he candidly answered all of her questions.

Moritz: "Now, did you shoot the mayor's dog?"

Morse: "Well, I shot that. It was a year or so ago. It was his dog."

Moritz: "Did you kind of feel bad?"

Morse: "I felt bad about that dog because I didn't know whose it was. After I found out about it, I did feel bad."

Morse said he raises chickens and roosters for competition in other states. He said it is his livelihood and he's going to protect it.

Moritz: "It doesn't stop you knowing there's a felony law on the books?"

Morse: "As long as they're after my animals. These are animals, not fowl, I'm protecting my own livestock."

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed Scruffy's Law last spring. Although it clearly states any intentional and malicious killing of an animal is a felony offense, it also states that the killing of any animal by any person at any time, which may be found outside of the owned or rented property, is permitted.

"This brought in some of the things which made it possible for me to vote for," former Kansas state Rep. Fred Miller said.

Miller said he would not have voted in favor of Scruffy's Law if farmers could not protect their livestock, and added that shooting a dog in the head is not malicious, Moritz reported.

"In my opinion, this is not being malicious. But to go out and shoot the dog mercifully, with a high-powered rifle, I guarantee you they won't feel anything," Miller said.

But Morse admitted to Moritz that he was paid by people who wanted their dogs shot to death -- dogs that have nothing to do with his chickens.

Moritz: "Is it true that a couple of people brought a couple of dogs here, paid you $40 for you to shoot them?"

Morse: "Well, Bobby brought them over here from his cousins in Independence, Kan., gave me $20 apiece. Then that one got away, so we caught it for Mary K."

Morse also admitted taking other drastic measures to kill dogs that entered his property.

"I tied his mouth shut, tied a steel on the rooster, and that rooster killed him in 15 minutes."

Moritz: "The rooster killed the dog in 15 minutes? Now, that's just brutal isn't it?"

Morse: "It's better than the dog killing the chickens."

Moritz reported that Morse's property sits within Elk City city limits. Although he can lawfully shoot a dog that threatens his chickens, it is against the law to fire a gun inside the city. But residents complain that the Montgomery sheriff does not enforce the law.

"We call the law enforcement, and we tell them, 'Hey, this guy is shooting dogs.' Unless we catch them, unless we catch him with a gun in his hand, what can we do? It's illegal to discharge a firearm in the city limits. We know the dogs have been shot, now tell us who did it. OK, we've got to catch him," McElwain said. kya Moritz reported that she stopped by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department and asked Sheriff Stan Veach for an interview, but was told "no comment."

Morse told Moritz that he will continue to kill dogs if they enter his property