A woman who shot and killed two of her neighbors’ dogs after they roamed onto her rural McMinnville property was sentenced Monday to two days in jail.
Nicole Erica Wood, 44, also must pay a $1,000 fine, be on probation for 18 months, complete 200 hours of community service and give up the two guns she used to kill the dogs in fall 2016.
The dogs were owned by two separate families who lived about three-quarters of a mile down the road from Wood.
Wood told police she thought the dogs had killed her cat a few months earlier and were a neighborhood menace. She said she warned one of the dog’s owners that if the dogs stepped on her property again, she’d kill them, investigators said.
She said she did just that when the pair appeared together on her land that November.
Wood fought the criminal charges against her during a two-day trial earlier this month in Yamhill County Circuit Court. Judge Ladd Wiles found her guilty of two counts of first-degree animal abuse, which are misdemeanors. He acquitted her of two felony counts of first-degree aggravated animal abuse.
Wood is trained to work as a veterinary technician and a registered nurse. It’s unclear if her convictions will affect her professional licenses with the state.
Wood is married to veterinarian Stan Wood, who has a practice in McMinnville.
Jacob Kamins, a state animal cruelty prosecutor who handled the case, said state law outlaws the killing of other people’s dogs because of a past threat, such as a dog that previously had killed a cat. But Kamins said the law specifically allows the killing of dogs in the immediate defense of livestock under attack.
Whether killing under other circumstances is permissible under the law is up to judges or juries to decide.
The dogs killed were a boxer named Shelby owned by Daniel and Hailey Cummins and a German short-haired pointer named Danner owned by Matthew and Melissa Lewis.
Although the Lewises were out of town and didn’t attend Monday’s sentencing, a relative read aloud a statement from Matthew Lewis directed at Nicole Wood.
Lewis described how he had to explain to his crying daughter why someone killed the family dog. Lewis said he told her “Good people make bad decisions.”
“I don’t think you are a bad person,” the statement said. “I know you made a bad decision that day.”
Lewis said he and his family have forgiven Wood, but they still have a lot of “pain, hurt and anger” to work through. He added that he didn’t want Wood to serve time in a “correctional facility.”
According to a probable cause affidavit, Yamhill County sheriff’s Deputy Michael Samerdyke arrived at Wood’s property shortly after the shooting to find the bodies of the dogs about 66 feet away from Wood’s home.
Wood said she put her own dog inside her house and then stepped back outside with a .27-caliber rifle and fatally shot one of them, the affidavit states.
As the other dog stood beside it, she shot it, too, the affidavit says. But the shot only wounded the dog. So she shot it again, this time with a pistol, as it headed toward her home, according to Wood’s account to the deputy.
The deputy asked Wood why she didn’t call 911 or her neighbors. Wood said that although the dogs weren’t being aggressive, she was worried they might, according to the affidavit.
Kamins said that at trial, Wood told a different story: that the dogs were in hunting mode and that she worried that the dogs might kill another cat that she owned because when she stepped back inside her house, she couldn’t find that cat.
Kamins criticized Wood’s account, saying she never spoke about her fear for that cat’s safety to law enforcement.
Wood’s defense also contended that the two dogs had chased or attacked cats and livestock in the rural neighborhood in 2015 and 2016.
Wood’s attorney, J. Mark Lawrence, asked for a year of probation and no jail time for his client.
Kamins asked for five years of probation, 30 days in jail and 100 hours of community service.
Wood had no previous criminal history.