BELLINGHAM — A Bellingham man annoyed by a barking dog shot his neighbors’ corgi, at nearly point-blank range with a rifle, killing her in front of her owner this past weekend on Undine Street.
The corgi hadn’t even been the dog barking.
A large-breed dog had been barking for hours Saturday evening, Sept. 13, in the Puget neighborhood before David William Latham, 55, grabbed a rifle and walked across the alley-width Verona Street to a knee-high fence at the edge of his neighbors’ backyard.
Loyce Andrews wept in her living room Monday as she told the story. Her husband, Cary Chunyk, had just fed the dogs, Molly and Kirby, around 7:20 p.m. Saturday. He stayed outside on the patio — it was warm and not quite sunset — and from there he could see the entire small backyard.
At the sight of a man they didn’t know, the dogs ran to the fence. Then, without saying a word, Latham fired one round into Molly’s chest, Andrews said. Latham turned around and slowly walked back to his home across the street. The dog’s owners had never met Latham before.
Chunyk ran after him and shouted: “You just shot my dog!”
But Andrews’ husband backed off, she said, when Latham stopped to brandish the rifle at him. Meanwhile Molly, a 13-month-old corgi, bled to death on the lawn for the next half-hour. On Monday morning, Andrews bent to touch a reddish patch of dirt on the ground.
“Here’s her blood,” she said, covering her mouth.
Police arrested Latham that night at his home. He faces charges of felony animal cruelty and misdemeanors of reckless endangerment, aiming or discharging a firearm within Bellingham city limits, and illegal carrying, drawing or exhibiting of a weapon.
Latham admitted he shot the dog, said Police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht.
“He was very cooperative with officers,” Vander Yacht said. “I don’t know what caused him to snap. But something made him go over the edge, beyond reason.”
Other neighbors heard a large dog barking and whining wildly, at a home next door to where Molly had been shot, for two more hours after the shooting.
“He said to the cops, ‘Oh my God, I shot the wrong dog,’” Andrews said. “As if there’s a right dog.”
Police showed Andrews and Chunyk seven guns they recovered from Latham’s home. They pointed to a .22-caliber rifle, the weapon they believed the shooter used.
Latham’s lawyer, Adrian Madrone, disputed the rifle’s caliber — it was a pellet gun, he said — at a court hearing Monday afternoon before a Superior Court commissioner.
A veterinarian at the Whatcom Humane Society pulled a round from Molly’s chest during a necropsy this week. The round is being sent to Bellingham police detectives to be identified.
Latham has no criminal history. He worked as a loan officer and an assistant vice president at Banner Bank until October 2009. He also served as president of the Bellingham Association of Credit Management, according to a Bellingham Business Journal article. In court Monday, his attorney said he still works in banking.
“I know Mr. Latham feels terrible about this situation,” Madrone said. “This is a very serious case that he’s going to be taking very seriously moving forward.”
Commissioner David Thorn set bail at $20,000. If he posts bond, Latham can’t possess firearms, and he can’t come near or contact his neighbors.
Andrews lost one of her dogs to lymphoma in November. So her best friend gave her a puppy, Molly, two months later. Early on, Molly wore a bark collar when home alone, and she quickly learned not to bark, Andrews said. Both dogs had always been quiet when their owners were home, like on Saturday.
“This is a good neighborhood, this is a nice, peaceful neighborhood. We all look out for each other. Now we’ve got this psycho,” Andrews said, in tears. “I can’t even go out in my backyard. I’m scared to death.”