Man charged with killing therapy service dog in Norwood Young America

A 55-year-old man has been arrested and charged in the fatal shooting of a family's therapy service dog in Norwood Young America

The Carver County Sheriff's Office confirmed to FOX 9 that Patrick Will of Norwood had been arrested on June 20. He was charged on Friday with animal mistreatment-torture, with the sheriff's office stating he unjustifiably killed a companion animal, which is a felony.  

According to the criminal complaint, the Brandenburg family called 911 around 5:50 p.m. on June 15 to report their family dog had been shot at an unknown location in Norwood Young America Township in Carver County. Deputies later learned a family member was walking the dog, named Gus, to the end of their driveway when they lost sight of him. 

After about 15 minutes, the dog returned home with what appeared to be gunshot wounds, the sheriff's office says. He was taken to an animal hospital in Golden Valley, where he was put to sleep because his wounds were too severe. The vet recovered a .22 caliber bullet and noted at least one gunshot wound, charges said.

Authorities reviewed Ring camera footage from the Brandenburg's home and confirmed Gus walked down the driveway with one of his owners at 11:48 a.m. and returned bleeding at 12:08 p.m. 

Detectives spoke with the Brandenburg's neighbors, including Will, charges said. He avoided eye contact and claimed he wasn't home on June 15 until about noon. On June 20, a detective spoke with Will's mother, who said she had seen a dog that looked like Gus on their property "multiple times" and had told her son, "If something happens or a dog comes out here, then get rid of it." 

Will's mom said Will did not discuss with her if he'd done anything to Gus, but she believed Gus was a stray dog, charges said. 

Later on June 20, a detective spoke with Will who admitted to shooting Gus because he was in his yard, stating "I did it … it was on my yard. I shot the damn thing." Will added, "I've had so many dogs that have been running out there everybody drops … off in town, that dogs been on the yard 10, 12 times, and I think my mother had made an attempt to go up there and tell them people nobody ever comes to the door," the charges state. 

Will later said he originally thought Gus was a coyote and went to get his rifle, at which point he realized it was a dog that he'd seen on his property before. He then shot at Gus, attempting to aim above his head, charges state. Gus then ran into some brush and Will shot into the area. 

Will was released on bail on the conditions he is to have no contact with the alleged victims, make all court appearances, and he is not to possess firearms, a press release says. His first appearance on these charges is scheduled for July 20. 

Gus the therapy service dog

The dog, named Gus, was a cattle dog and red healer mix, who was trained as a therapy service dog. He spent five years doing his best to heal the Brandenburg boys. Their father was an Iraq War veteran who suffered from PTSD and died by suicide about a year and a half ago. Gus was especially bonded with Jeremy Brandenburg’s younger son, Reece.

"Whenever he was anxious and scared and was grieving, [Gus] came on top of him and was this weighted blanket, and truly was his best friend, and was there through the intense grief process of losing a parent," Arielle Brandenburg told FOX 9. "There was comfort care enough for the boys to say 'goodbye' and get a paw print, and love on him one last time."

Gus, a therapy service dog, was fatally shot in Norwood Young America on June 15.  (Supplied)

She filed a report with the Carver County Sheriff’s office, and vented about the crime on Facebook. Along with comments from people who shared her anger, Arielle Brandenburg got a message from a neighbor not far away whose horse was recently shot by what also seemed to be a .22.

It’s an unsettling thought for her and her neighbors.

"I'm terrified to put my horses near the road, or have my kids even drive their dirt bikes alone," Arielle Brandenburg said. "It's too scary at this point."

Most animal abuse cases in Minnesota are considered misdemeanors, but killing a service animal can be a felony with a punishment of up to four years in prison.

Reece did get to say goodbye to Gus, telling the dog to go find his Dad and keep him company.