Photo by Heather Middleton
Robert Hohenberger bought a pellet gun six months ago to discourage wandering dogs from using his small patch of grass as a toilet.
But that $29.95 purchase has already cost him nearly $400 to get himself bonded out of the Clayton County Jail, after he was arrested Saturday night for cruelty to animals.
Hohenberger, 64, lives in a travel trailer inside Clayton Village Mobile Home Park in Jonesboro. He told police he shot his neighbor's mixed-breed dog for relieving itself in his yard.
"I'm country, I'm from Alabama," he said. "I go out barefoot, and I don't like stepping in dog manure. This is my part of the world. I just want to live my life and you live yours."
Hohenberger has been a long distance truck driver for 38 years, said he has never been arrested before and said he loves animals.
"I never meant to hurt that dog," he said. "I just wanted to make them stop taking a dump in my yard. And, yes, I'd do it again."
The dog, a 9-month-old mixed-breed female named KC, belongs to Leticia Mendoza, who lives in a trailer about 100 yards from Hohenberger. Mendoza doesn't speak English so she talked about her ordeal through another neighbor, Marisol Barrera, 11, who translated.
Mendoza said she got KC two weeks ago from a woman giving away dogs. KC is an inside pet not allowed to wander outside, she said, but she ran out the front door as the family left to go to the store. Mendoza said KC was attracted to Hohenberger's yard because at least one other dog was already nearby.
"She was standing that tree in his yard when he shot her," Mendoza said through Barrera. "There was a lot of blood coming out, and she couldn't walk. We heard the crying and went to get her."
Mendoza said she called police and was cited for violating the county's leash law.
"But I don't accept it because he hurt my dog," Mendoza said through Barrera.
Mendoza has a $670.75 bill from Banfield Pet Hospital that appeared to be reduced to $122.37, because of a membership fee. KC is taking a prescribed anti-inflammatory for her BB injury, but Mendoza said she needs costly surgery to remove the pellet.
"I don't have a lot of money, and I want him to pay something on the bill," she said.
Hohenberger is just realizing how expensive his actions may soon become. He should get a court date in about two weeks.
"I don't have an attorney, I didn't think it was that important," he said. "I guess I need to get one. I know they are going to want me to pay for that vet bill, too."
Hohenberger was arrested under the county's animal cruelty ordinance, according to a Magistrate Court warrant. He could be fined up to $1,000 or face up to six months in jail, or both, if convicted.
The police took his BB gun, but he's still shooting dogs -- with a camera.
"I am taking pictures of all the dogs that come in my yard," he said. "I am hoping it will help me before the judge."