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Dog shooter gets two years
Sentence includes prison, penalties
Jonathan Hee
Jonathan Hee - photo by Submitted
A 53-year-old man will serve two years in prison for shooting his neighbor’s dog.

Jonathan Griswold Hee of Green Summers Drive was convicted last month by a Forsyth County Superior Court jury of aggravated cruelty to animals, reckless conduct, disorderly conduct and discharging a gun near a public street.

On Thursday, Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David L. Dickinson sentenced Hee to serve two years in prison and three years on probation.

Hee must also pay a $1,500 fine and $551 in restitution, as well as perform community service and undergo a psychological evaluation upon his release.

“With all my heart I sincerely apologize for what happened that day,” Hee said in court Thursday. “It was totally out of character.”

He said the dog came at him and he was scared.

“I’ve never even seen this dog before,” he said. “I absolutely freaked out. That dog was trying to bite me.”

Hee has 30 days to appeal the jury’s decision.

He was arrested in September 2008 by Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies for shooting his neighbor’s 50-pound Labrador-beagle mix at least twice, wounding the dog’s neck, ear and chest.

The dog, named Buster, survived.

The shooting occurred on Green Summers Drive in the Green Summers subdivision in northwestern Forsyth.

According to a sheriff’s report of the incident, Buster ran out of his yard on Sloan Ridge and approached Hee.

The dog’s owner, Laura Hanson, chased after Buster and grabbed his harness. She said Buster barked at Hee because the man yelled at her, the report said.

Hee reportedly pulled a small-caliber handgun out of his pocket and aimed it at Buster.

The report said Hanson backed away and repeatedly said, “No, please don’t.”

But Hee, who told deputies he was defending himself, fired the weapon.

District Attorney Penny Penn said Thursday the shooting was “not only unjustified but it was just downright mean.”

“The name of the neighborhood is Green Summers,” Penn said. “It’s not the OK Corral. It’s not the wild, wild west. It’s not open season on loose dogs.”

While Buster may be able to perform basic functions, like walking and running, Penn said the dog will never regain 100 percent use of his right front leg.

She added that Hee could be “a poster child for gun control.”

Hanson’s father, John, said the dog hides under a bed when he hears loud noises and sometimes falls because his paw turns under.

“Our lives are forever changed and we no longer see our home as the safe haven we thought it was,” he said.

Hee’s attorney, Parker McFarland, said the shooting does not define his client and that it was “an aberration.”

“This was just one of those unfortunate situations where he had to make a decision and he didn’t have very much time,” said McFarland, adding that Hee maintained “from the beginning this was self-defense.”

In weighing his client’s punishment, the attorney asked Dickinson to consider the fact the dog survived.

“This dog may have some minor nerve damage today, but it can run, it can walk, it can sit,” McFarland said.

Some of Hee’s neighbors who spoke on his behalf said he was helpful around the subdivision and had been kind to their families.