A Hagerstown man was found not guilty of animal cruelty and other charges Thursday in Washington County District Court for shooting a neighbor’s dog.
Steven Eugene Graven, 56, of 20610 Jefferson Boulevard, had also been charged with mutilating an animal and malicious destruction of property in the Oct. 22, 2010, shooting of the mastiff outside his home, according to the application for statement of charges filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Graven told investigators that the dog came onto his property and, believing it was vicious, he went inside and got a shotgun, the charging documents said. Graven told police that when he went back outside, the dog was still in his yard, and he fired a warning shot before firing again at the dog’s backside.
“Our theory of the case was that Mr. Graven acted in self-defense, and the verdict by Judge (Mark D.) Thomas supports that theory,” said Graven’s attorney, D. Benson Thompson III.
The dog’s owner, Ryan Blumenauer, told investigators the dog would not hurt anyone and was tied up outside when he left the house that day, the documents said. The dog was treated at an animal hospital for numerous shotgun pellet wounds, the document said.
In July, an officer from the Humane Society of Washington County had spoken with both Graven and Blumenauer after Graven complained of his neighbor’s dogs running loose and barking at night, the documents said.
Graven told the officer he “would shoot the dog if it came around again,” the documents said.
The officer told Graven he had the right to defend himself, but advised him to call the humane society if the dog returned, the documents said.