Neighbor charged in shooting of family’s therapy dog

MARTINDALE—A family lost not only its beloved pet, but its sense of security and a child lost her best friend, when Poppy, the family dog was shot and killed on their Palmer Road property, Sunday, June 14.

According to the State Police complaint, Linda Derosa, 62, of Claverack was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a class E felony, under state Agriculture and Market’s Law, June 18.

The complaint alleges that Sunday morning at about 10 a.m., when Ilze Earner and her children were at church, Mrs. Derosa “intentionally and with no justifiable purpose shot a Great Pyrenees and Newfoundland mix dog named Poppy… which resulted in the death of said dog.”

Mrs. Derosa allegedly shot Poppy with a .22 rifle in the neck/chest area.

Police issued Mrs. Derosa a ticket ordering her to appear in Claverack Court July 21 at 6 p.m.

Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka told The Columbia Paper that Mrs. Derosa “claimed the dogs had been barking quite a lot and that’s what triggered her upset.”

Mr. Czajka’s office will be prosecuting the case, which, because it’s a felony cannot be resolved in local court, he said. He did not know who is representing the defendant.

By phone this week, Mrs. Earner described Poppy as a 3-year-old female, 110 to 120 pounds, “a white fluffy, giant teddy bear, a gentle beautiful dog.” The situation is especially heartbreaking because Poppy was a companion animal to Kristine, the Earner’s 12-year-old adopted daughter, who had suffered “severe abuse and neglect” as a youngster.

When Mrs. Earner and her husband, Laurence, discovered that Kristine, who has cognitive deficiencies and learning disabilities, trusted and related better to animals than people, they brought the professionally trained dog, which loved people and was especially fond of children, into the family. Kristine and Poppy went for long walks and Kristine could often be found sitting outside reading Poppy a story. Mrs. Earner said she told Kristine that as long as Poppy was around she would be safe.

It was Kristine who found Poppy dead on the Earner’s property that day.

The Derosa’s house is about 200 feet away from the Earner house and the Derosa backyard abuts the bottom of the Earner’s driveway. Mrs. Earner said she was rolling her garbage bins to the bottom of the driveway one morning when she heard her neighbor, Mrs. Derosa, screaming profanities at her.

Noting that Mrs. Derosa had allegedly previously threatened to shoot her, her children and her dogs because “we bothered her,” Mrs. Earner related accounts of other run-ins with her neighbor of 10 years, whom she described as an increasingly “angry, unstable and aggressive” person “with a houseful of loaded guns.”

In another instance Mrs. Derosa allegedly threw rocks at a landscaper who was clearing some brush on the Earner property. Mrs. Derosa mistakenly accused the man of being on her property. Mrs. Earner said after years of such encounters she, her husband and two daughters knew to avoid Mrs. Derosa, whose actions were “not rational or reasonable.”

Mrs. Earner said she did not report the threats to police because she believed nothing would have been accomplished, except to make Mrs. Derosa “madder.”

Even now, Mrs. Earner wonders why Mrs. Derosa was not charged with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, noting her belief that Mrs. Derosa shot Poppy while standing in her backyard and likely shot more than once. Mrs. Earner also has two guest houses which she rents out on her property, one of which was occupied by guests with a three-year-old toddler at the time of the shooting.

Though the court issued an order of protection for Mrs. Earner against Mrs. Derosa, Mrs. Earner questions why similar orders were not issued for her children and her other dog, a Corgi named Ollie.

“We are living in terror,” she said adding that Kristine wakes up screaming in the night and “her anxiety is now off the charts.” Her nanny is afraid to come to the house, said Mrs. Earner.

“Where are my rights? Everyone has the right to own and have guns; is that more important than my right not to live in fear?” she asked.

Police seized the gun allegedly used to shoot Poppy and at least one other weapon from the Derosa house, said DA Czajka, noting that’s standard procedure when someone is charged with a serious offense.

He said his office continues to investigate the case along with the State Police and other charges may be forthcoming. The charge against Mrs. Derosa is also known as Buster’s Law, which was passed in 1999 and made animal cruelty in New York State a felony. The law was named after a cat that was doused in kerosene and set on fire in 1997. The DA said under the law, Mrs. Derosa could be sentenced to up to two years in prison.

An attempt to reach Mrs. Derosa by phone was not successful.

To contact Diane Valden email

Comments are closed.