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Massachusetts Man Faces Animal Cruelty, Gun Charges After Shooting Own Dog

Gordon Lagstrom of Middleboro, Massachusetts was arraigned at the Wareham District Court yesterday on charges of Animal Cruelty, Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated and Discharging a Firearm Within Five Hundred Feet of a Building. According to a report in the Brockton Enterprise, Lagstrom brought his dog to a veterinarian for emergency help after the dog had sustained a gunshot wound. Lagstrom asked for help for the animal. A police officer responded to the veterinary clinic and formed the opinion that Lagstrom had been drinking. After some questioning the defendant admitted to shooting the dog accidentally believing that someone was trying to get into his home. Officers continued to investigate and found a trail of blood starting in the yard, leading to the defendant’s home and ending in Lagstrom’s living room floor. Officers then found two guns, one loaded and neither properly stored. If indicted, this case will be prosecuted in the Plymouth County Superior Court.

Wareham, Massachusetts Firearm Possession Defense

Massachusetts Gun Crimes Lawyer

The Animal Cruelty statute in Massachusetts is broad. The law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 77 prohibits the following acts: overworking animals, beating animals, killing animals, starving animals, torturing them, mutilating them and more. A conviction for the commission of this offense carries a possible five year state prison sentence. I have seen many of these cases prosecuted in Massachusetts for the past twenty years. Massachusetts district attorneys take these matters quite seriously and often request jail time for someone found guilty of this crime. At least as suggested in this article Lagstrom will have some problems. He will first have to show that the police officer’s theory about where the dog was shot was incorrect. Either that or the defendant will have to adduce facts that support his statement that someone was trying to get into his home when he accidentally shot the dog. The blood trail and forensic evidence, i.e. gunshot residue, location of any shell casings and items of that nature will have to match up with his statement. A firearms expert and/or perhaps a blood spatter expert will be useful if the defendant continues with this defense.

The firearms cases are somewhat different in terms of a defense. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 10H prohibits anyone from carrying a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The standard for “under the influence” is the same as for OUI cases. A conviction for this crime carries a potential two and one half year house of correction sentence. This crime is not often prosecuted. As a matter of fact, as of today Lexis shows that there are not reported decisions dealing with this crime.


The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, PC defends cases like these in Wareham and throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We have over twenty five years experience with Criminal Cases in Massachusetts. If you have been charged with a crime you need a lawyer. Call us at 617-263-6800 or send us an email to discuss your case.