Man charged with animal cruelty in death of dog

Posted at 11:24 PM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 08:07:10-05

A St. Mary's county man has been charged with two counts of animal cruelty after he shot a dog and cut its throat at Newtowne Neck State Park on Christmas Day, the Maryland Natural Resources Police said. 

Marcus Stauffer, 20, of Leonardtown was deer hunting from a tree stand when he saw the dog. The dog, a year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, was shot twice with a muzzleloader. Stauffer then cut the dog's throat. 

The dog and another retriever are owned by the ranger who lives at the park. The dogs, which are collared and tagged, broke free while the ranger was on duty. The ranger found the one dog and searched with a Natural Resources Police officer for the other, but couldn't find him.

Hours later, the ranger found Stauffer, who said he thought the dog was a stray and he "shot it for the public."

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The charges of animal cruelty, aggravated animal cruelty and destruction of property under $1,000 were reviewed an approved by the St. Mary's County State's Attorney. Stauffer was served with a criminal summons Tuesday. 

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26 in St. Mary's District Court. If found guilty of all three charges, Stauffer faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a $6,500 fine. 

The Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service has rescinded Stauffer's permit to hunt on southern Maryland public lands that require a permit.