Man Gets 2 Years for Shooting Stray Dog with Crossbow

By Greg Janda and Ben Russell
|  Thursday, Nov 14, 2013  |  Updated 11:33 PM EDT
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Christopher Swilley, 49, was sentenced Wednesday morning in a Tarrant County court after a jury found him guilty of animal cruelty, a felony.

Ben Russell, NBC 5 News

Christopher Swilley, 49, was sentenced Wednesday morning in a Tarrant County court after a jury found him guilty of animal cruelty, a felony.

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A Fort Worth man who shot a dog with a crossbow has received the maximum sentence of two years in state jail.

Christopher Swilley, 49, was sentenced Wednesday morning in a Tarrant County court after a jury found him guilty of animal cruelty, a felony.

"This was unfathomable to do this to an animal for absolutely no reason," said Dawn Ferguson, Tarrant County assistant district attorney in a statement.

Prosecutors said Swilley shot a stray black-and-white husky in the 1100 block of Northwest 15th Street in Fort Worth in April 2012. The bolt injured the dog's leg and chest.

Swilley reportedly had called animal control two times to have the stray dog picked up, said Melody McDonald, a district attorney's office spokeswoman.

"When they didn't come pick [the dog] up, he took matters into his own hands," she said.

The stray ran to a nearby house, where the residents called 911.

"I remember seeing the guy holding the crossbow and hurrying up and running to his car and drove off," said Andrew Ponce, an 11-year-old who witnessed the immediate aftermath of the incident and was the first to find the wounded dog.

Ponce and his family had seen the stray dog several times because it would lay on the ground in front of their home.

"His name was, we named him the 'Guard Dog,'" said Amanda Medrano, the boy's mother.

Medrano said Swilley, a neighbor, had always seemed like a nice man prior to the incident.

"What he did, I mean, we were angry," she said. "[My son] was crying. He was like, 'Why would he do that? He was a nice dog. He didn't hurt nobody.'"

The Humane Society of North Texas cared for the dog, and eventually a couple adopted him and named him Dantes. According to Tarrant County attorneys, the dog is happy and healthy.

Dr. Cynthia Jones, the Humane Society veterinarian who treated Dantes, said the bolt missed all of the animal's vital organs and arteries.

"This dog was really lucky," she said.

Swilley was sentenced to the maximum sentence of two years in state jail.

Jones, who testified about the dog's injuries during Swilley's trial, said she is satisfied with his sentence.

"I'm sure this man was frustrated," she said. "I'm sure he didn't set out to kill a dog when he woke up that morning. He just had had enough."

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