A former state lawmaker looking to return to the Wyoming Legislature this year is facing some backlash from his prospective constituents after shooting and killing his neighbor’s dog after it wandered on his property and attacked his livestock.
Lars Lone, who served a single term as the Republican representative for Cheyenne’s House District 12 before moving out of the district, shot his prospective constituent’s dog on June 22 after he said it attacked one of his milking goats through a fence on his 40-acre property.
Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Lone said that he was within his rights under Wyoming law to shoot the dog, and that he had made every effort to identify the owner of the animal prior to shooting it. Lone said the dog had harassed his goats on two occasions and had bit one of the goat’s ears before the shooting.
The dog had no identifying tags on its collar when he opened fire, he said, and it wasn’t until after calling another neighbor that he discovered the dog belonged to Michael Parkins, a neighbor whom he’d met but has had limited contact with.
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“I was concerned at the time because it was harassing one of my goats,” Lone said in an interview. “If it was 15 minutes earlier, it could have been attacking my kids. I did what I felt was appropriate under the conditions and in accordance with Wyoming statute.”
“I don’t make a habit of shooting animals if I don’t have to,” he added later. “I’m a dog lover myself. I did what I did because I believed my family and my property were in danger.”
While Parkins acknowledged his own responsibility to keep the dog contained in his house, he believes Lone could have done more to identify the owner before shooting the pet, noting his wife was driving up and down their street looking for it at the time the shooting happened and had even waved at Lone moments before the shooting.
“He had no remorse, didn’t care, and then proceeded to wink at my wife as he concluded telling her about the death of my dog like it was no big deal,” Parkins wrote in a public Facebook post Tuesday night, several weeks after the shooting.
Parkins added that in the past, he had been unaware that his dog had been harassing Lone’s livestock when it had gotten out and would have done something to have prevented it from happening again had he known.
“What my wife and I find frustrating is that we had never heard of this,” Parkins said. “The first we ever heard of any of this was when Lars came to our door to tell us that our dog had been shot.”
Lone is currently involved in a three-way primary race for incumbent Rep. John Eklund’s seat in House District 10, a heavily rural district on the outskirts of Cheyenne with a long, thumb-like strand shooting up past the Goshen/Laramie county line.
While Lone said he was within his rights to shoot the dog, he said that he regrets the situation and, in the aftermath, did his best to redeem the situation by informing the family of what he had done and offering to help bury the animal.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything out of malice or any reason other than protecting my family and my livestock,” he said.
Parkins, however, feels that his prospective constituents should be made aware of the incident.
“I’m not once questioning his legal justification for shooting our dog,” he said. “What’s upsetting to us, just as a neighbor and a candidate who is running to represent our district in the House of Representatives, is that he’s just so quick to shoot and kill this dog standing outside in this chain link fence for barking at his goats.
“We’re not trying to tell people who to vote for or who not to vote for or anything like that,” he added. “I just felt like it was something that should be known, and so I shared it.”