A Dunkirk man pleaded guilty yesterday to reckless endangerment for shooting a dog that had been at the center of a simmering neighborhood dispute.
Wilbur M. Kasulke, 58, of the 300 block of Jewell Road was sentenced to five years unsupervised probation by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr.
Judge Thieme agreed to a defense request to grant Kasulke probation before judgment, which means the conviction will be stricken from court records if Kasulke completes the five-year term without committing any other criminal offenses.
Kasulke admitted that he took a shotgun and blasted the dog, Vallie, owned by Deborah Butler, 26, a neighbor, on June 27.
But he said that he shot the dog to keep it from attacking his 84-year-old father, Frederick Kasulke, who shared both a home and dislike of the dog with his son.
"I was under the impression my father was going to get attacked by this dog," he said.
But the Butlers disputed that, saying that the dog, a German Shepherd-mixed breed, was not attacking anyone when Wilbur Kasulke opened fire.
According to a statement of facts agreed to by the defense lawyer and the prosecutor, Frederick Kasulke was standing in his yard at about 8:30 p.m., when the dog ran from the Butler home toward the elder Kasulke.
Mr. Kasulke yelled to his son to get his shotgun from the house because he was fed up with the dog and was going to kill it, according to the statement.
The younger Kasulke came out of the house and blasted the dog, hitting it with dozens of shotgun pellets.
When Sylvia Butler, Deborah Butler's 54-year-old mother, approached him, he hit her with the butt of his shotgun.
Walter S.B. Childs, Kasulke's lawyer, said Mrs. Butler was accidentally struck when she tried to grab the gun from his client's hands.
But Mrs. Butler said that Wilbur Kasulke hit her when she was approaching him with her hands in the air, trying to calm him and keep him from shooting anyone.
Kasulke was convicted of reckless endangerment because Tina Butler, 21, Deborah Butler's sister, was standing a few feet from the dog when the shot was fired, said assistant state's attorney Jennifer Spivak.
Mr. Childs said that the defendant had no criminal record and was a father of four. He worked for 18 years for Giant supermarkets before taking a job five years ago as commissary manager at Fort Belvoir, Va.
He said that the 48-pound dog, which survived the attack, had been a source of conflict for years between the Kasulkes and the Butlers.
"This dog has literally kept the man entrapped," Mr. Childs said of the elder Mr. Kasulke.
The night before the shooting, the Butlers' horse had meandered on to the Kasulke property and peered into a window, which annoyed the family.
"The Kasulkes had urged, pleaded and begged the Butlers to restrain their animals," Mr. Childs said.