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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Retired Cop Who Shot Neighbor's Dog Found Guilty of Animal Abuse

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 1:52 PM

Ruger, who was shot in October 2017. - COURTESY OF DAN KOLDE
  • Ruger, who was shot in October 2017.

More than a year has passed since Manchester resident Barry Armfield shot and killed his neighbor's dog. Today, a St. Louis County judge found Armfield guilty of animal abuse, convicting the retired county police officer on a single Class-A misdemeanor.

The dog, a six-year-old Australian cattle dog named Ruger, was discovered by his owners wounded and trailing blood on October 4, 2017. He was rushed to an emergency veterinarian, but the damage was done, and Ruger died hours later.

After the incident, Armfield claimed the dog had cornered him that day, "barking and showing its teeth," which purportedly forced the then-62-year-old to fire on the animal. The pistol Armfield used was a commemorative firearm that he'd received upon retiring from the St. Louis County Police Department. Although investigators confiscated the weapon, they did not arrest Armfield.

However, Armfield's interactions with the police raised questions. According to a police report, a Manchester officer initially approached Armfield as he was washing his driveway, and the report notes that the driveway's surface appeared to be stained with "fresh spattered blood that contained small strands of hair." The officer also reported that he could detect the odor of alcohol and that Armfield's eyes appeared "glassy, bloodshot."

But in that first interview with police, Armfield denied shooting the dog. It was only after officers returned his home two more times that he finally admitted he shot at Ruger. He told police that the animal had acted aggressively and cornered him.

In an interview with the RFT in November 2017, Armfield said he felt bad about Ruger's death, but insisted the shooting was "justified." He also denied drinking on the evening of the incident, and he questioned why Ruger's owners, Jackie Dukart and Bob Holtz, had allowed their pet to run loose in the neighborhood.

"It's their fault," Armfield suggested to the RFT. "They neglected the animal."

But St. Louis County Judge John Newsham apparently disagreed. According to attorney Dan Kolde, who is representing Ruger's owners and attended today's verdict hearing, Judge Newsham sentenced Armfield to pay a $700 fine.

Update 4 p.m.: Jackie Dukar, one of Ruger's owners, provided this statement to RFT:
We are grateful that the Court has found Barry Armfield guilty for his crime against Ruger. Ruger was a good dog and a beloved member of our family. We are taking some comfort in the fact the Court recognized that Ruger did nothing to deserve the fear, pain, and suffering that Barry Armfield inflicted upon him. While nothing will ever bring Ruger back to us, we hope today's verdict sends the message that animal abuse will not go unpunished in our community.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at

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