The case of the feuding neighbours that led to the shooting of a stray St. Bernard is now in the hands of a Saskatoon judge who heard closing arguments on both sides of the question Wednesday.
Eugene Krawchuk, 59, was charged with careless use of a firearm and the unlawful killing of a dog, and related charges, following an episode in April of 2013. His wife, Laurie Krawchuk, is also before the court accused of unlicenced possession of a firearm.
The dog, an eight-month old St. Bernard, belonged to the Price family, neighbours of the Krawchuks in the rural municipality of Grant, near Vonda, Sask., about 50 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. The Krawchuks have six horses, a llama, a donkey and an alpaca-cross.
Court heard that the dog, Bentley, ran into a pasture owned by the Krawchuks and that Lianne Price, then 16, was also on the land trying to coax the dog back.
According to the Crown prosecutor's presentation, Krawchuk — who saw the dog and retrieved his rifle — aimed over the girl's head and fired, killing the dog.
The Krawchuk's lawyer, however, said the shooting was done in a safe way and for a valid reason.
"The dog had commenced chasing and harassing their horses," defence lawyer Patrick McDougall told the court in his final presentation. "[Krawchuk] was justified in protecting his animals."
McDougall also told the judge about case law, from as far back as 1915, where Saskatchewan courts have said a farmer is within his rights to not have to wait for an attack before shooting a stray dog on his property.
"The Price dog was in the pasture for between ten and 15 minutes before it was destroyed," McDougall added. "Mr. Krawchuk was very careful in the manner in which he handled the rifle and used the rifle."
'It's clear the Krawchuks don't like the Prices.' - Crown prosecutor Paul Goldstein
The prosecutor, however, painted a very different picture for the judge, arguing that Krawchuk made no attempt to deal with the dog with less than lethal means.
"I think it's clear the Krawchuks don't like the Prices," Crown prosecutor Paul Goldstein said. "Eugene Krawchuk's intention was to kill that dog, no matter the circumstances."
According to Goldstein, Lianne Price tried to get Krawchuk's attention but was ignored.
"He didn't listen to Lianne's pleading while he sized up the situation," said Goldstein. "We have no warning shot, no attempt to get the dog."
Goldstein told the judge that the Krawchuks did not do anything to shoo the dog away and made no effort to stop the dog from coming onto their property.
"The only thing they wanted was to kill that dog," said Goldstein. "Why haven't we heard evidence of any injuries to any of their animals?"
McDougall, in his arguments, told the judge the Krawchuks were just reacting to the situation they found.
"They're simple people who live on an acreage who feel they're inundated by bad things happening to them," he said.
Outside court, Michael Price, Lianne's father, said the situation with his neighbours has been intolerable.
"They've been bullying people for the last ten years that they've been living there," Price said. "We've had enough."
The judge on the case, Marty Irwin, said he will deliver his decision Mar. 20.