Charges: Otsego man accused of shooting neighbor's $5,000 puppy

An Otsego, Minnesota, man is accused of shooting a neighbor's puppy in the head - a dog that the owner told deputies he bred himself and valued at $5,000, according to a criminal complaint.

Leonard Smisek Jr., 74, was charged by summons with mistreating an animal under a torture subdivision, according to a set of charges filed on Monday in Wright County.

The charges say deputies were called on the night of Feb. 27, 2023, after the eight-month-old border collie was discovered dead along Jalger Avenue just south of 85th Street Northeast in the City of Otsego. Deputies say the dog had been shot in the forehead and was laying in the road next to a Pizza Hut box covered with blood.

Speaking with residents in the area, deputies learned the dog likely belonged to a neighbor who had come by earlier looking for his border collie. Deputies were able to find the man who confirmed the dead dog belonged to him.

The dog's owner said the border collie, named "Willy" had gone missing when he let him out of the garage with his other dogs earlier that evening. According to the charges, the owner suspected Smisek, who lives across the street from him on Jaber Avenue, had left the dog along Jalger Avenue purposely for the owner to find because "[the owner] drives this road every day."

The owner also told deputies he bred the dog and estimated a dog of that pedigree was worth $5,000, the criminal complaint details. On top of that, the charges state the owner told deputies he had invested approximately another $5,000 to train the dog.

After speaking with the owner, the complaint states that deputies went to Smisek's home, about a mile away from where the dog was found, to ask him about the incident. At Smisek's home, officers say they found a Ford pickup truck that had blood on its bed and tailgate. Deputies say they also found a large amount of blood in the snow, a wheelbarrow with blood in it, a bloody shovel, and a spent shotgun shell near the front door. Later, they also found some Pizza Hut boxes in the bed of a broken-down truck.

Deputies say they knocked on Smisek's front door and saw a light turn on and then turn back off.

According to deputies, they tried calling Smisek but got no answer. They obtained a search warrant and came back to find the shotgun shell was missing.

The following day, however, deputies say they spoke with Smisek. The complaint says he claimed the dog had come onto his property scaring his cats. Smisek said he first used a broom to chase it away. But, he claimed the dog returned.

In the charges, deputies write: "The defendant stated that the dog came to back up on his property onto the porch and was growling at him, so he decided that he would shoot the dog with a shotgun. After shooting the dog, the defendant stated that he felt that the only reasonable thing to do was to put the dog on cardboard down the road from him in hopes that the owners or another neighbor would recognize the dog and the owners could deal with the dog. In his own statements, he had reason to believe that the dog was a neighbor’s dog."

Finally, the deputies note in the charges that the City of Otsego forbids discharging a firearm in certain areas including Smisek's home.

No hearing has been set for Smisek in the case.