FORT MYERS, Fla. There’s an empty dog dish next to the dining room table where Justin Merrick’s 3-year-old dog used to eat in his River Otter Drive home.
“I thought that I was going to have him for 15 or 20 years,” he said. “I thought we were going to be together for a long time.”
Merrick was on vacation in Arizona last month when he received a call that his pit bull Jimmy was shot and killed at the Winkler Avenue home where he was staying.
Philip Pregenzer, the dog sitter’s boyfriend, is accused of pulling the trigger.
Pregenzer, 42, told officers that Jimmy growled at his young child, so he put the dog in a crate and shot him in the head, according to Lee County Domestic Animal Services.
“It’s a huge question mark as to why you would separate an animal that he feels is a threat and you’ve made the separation — in a crate, outside the house,” Merrick said. “Go check on your child, see how your child’s doing…don’t put a bullet in my dog’s head.”
Pregenzer was arrested for animal cruelty, but since a necropsy showed that Jimmy died instantly, he will be facing a misdemeanor instead of a felony, Merrick said.
He was released on a $5,000 bond.