Arrest made after dog survives shooting in parking lot

Arrest made after dog survives shooting in parking lot

An Eagle Point man was arrested for shooting a dog with a BB-gun pistol Tuesday after he said it bit him when he reached into a truck bed to pet it.

The 5-year-old yellow lab mix, Etta, survived, but was shot at least twice by 46-year-old Joseph Gima; once through her right eye, and again in the neck. Veterinarian Tom Terbeck at All Creatures Animal Hospital said it would take about a week to determine if she will lose her sight in the damaged eye.

Gima was charged with first-degree animal abuse, first-degree aggravated animal abuse and second-degree criminal mischief. He was arrested and lodged Wednesday in Jackson County Jail on $10,000 bail, and was released the following day after posting partial bail.

Etta's owner, Renee D. Parent-Lewis, 54, Eagle Point, said she knew something was wrong when she walked out of the store that afternoon and couldn't see Etta in the bed of her truck.

"I thought, 'That's weird,' she usually sits up and watches the door and waits for me," she said.

As Parent-Lewis walked closer to her vehicle, she could see Etta was struggling to get up, and very bloody, she said.

"I just grabbed her, I didn't know what was going on," Parent-Lewis said.

Gima, who would provide only limited information, said he plans to hire a lawyer and fight the charges against him.

He said he tried to pet Etta while walking into the store, but she attacked him.

While in the store, Gima bought groceries as well as a Co2 powered BB gun pistol, and ammunition for it, police said.

He then allegedly returned to his truck, unpacked the gun, walked to Parent-Lewis' truck and then shot the dog.

Eyewitness Crissy L. Church, 39, Eagle Point, said she could hear Gima shooting the airgun from inside her truck, with the doors closed, windows up and the heater "blasting."

Church told police she saw Gima shoot at the dog five or six times with the pistol, before he walked away, a claim that Gima denies.

Church was about 20 yards away from Gima, who she said was about three feet away from the dog when he was shooting.

Church said she was stunned when she realized what was happening, but gathered herself enough to write down a description of Gima and his license plate number.

After speaking with Parent-Lewis, Church called the police, and then to her surprise saw that Gima had returned to the parking lot. She told Parent-Lewis, who said she called out to Gima.

"Did you shoot my dog?," she said she asked.

He denied shooting the dog, or knowing anything about the incident, she said.

Police said when they questioned him later that night, Gima again denied any responsibility for the shooting.

It wasn't until the following day, when police reviewed surveillance tapes and located the packaging from the BB gun Gima purchased in a trash can near his home, that they were able to get Gima to admit to shooting the dog, police said.

"I'm not happy, and I'm not proud about what happened," Gima said. "... but a vicious dog like that should not be left in the back of a truck in a parking lot."

Parent-Lewis said she doubts Gima's story that Etta was acting vicious, and said if she did bite, it would have just have been a nip.

"She will bark at people that get to close to the truck, but she is very friendly," Parent-Lewis said. "At home, she sits in the front grass and watches cars, and people with other dogs pass by, and she just sits there not making a sound."

Parent-Lewis said she hasn't been able to sleep since Etta was shot, and although she has nothing to say to Gima, she would like to know what was going through his head.

"I just can't believe it," she said.

"If he was sitting here, I wouldn't be saying anything, I would be swinging."

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