ST CHARLES, Mo. — A St. Charles County Sheriff’s Deputy has resigned and was charged with a misdemeanor after police say he shot and killed his neighbor’s dog with a pellet gun.
Ryan Kuehner was charged with animal abuse, a class A misdemeanor for the May 22 incident in which Apollo, a 3-year-old rescue from Spain was shot in the middle of a subdivision.
A member of Kuehner’s family works in the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar’s office, so Lohmar asked for a special prosecutor to handle the case.
Lohmar's office was inundated with hate mail, social media attacks and voicemails from people accusing him of neglecting his duties to prosecute the case by asking for a special prosecutor, according to his spokesperson.
Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Trisha Stefanski was appointed to the case. She issued the single charge of animal abuse Monday.
The dog’s owner, Erica Hansen, noticed something was off with the dog after they finished some yard work and told 5 On Your Side’s Holden Kurwicki the dog was coughing, foaming at the mouth and collapsing.
She and her husband, Eric Bacon, rushed him to the vet, but he could not be resuscitated. X-rays revealed Apollo had been shot in the lungs with a pellet gun.
St. Charles County Sheriff Scott Lewis said Kuehner worked for his department from Aug. 11, 2020 through June 17.
In a statement, Lewis wrote "Mr. Bacon filed a written complaint against Kuehner with the Sheriff’s Office. I directed an internal investigation to be conducted. Upon my review of that report, I sustained Mr. Bacon’s complaint and initiated disciplinary proceedings and Kuehner resigned effective 06-17-2022. I met with Mr. Bacon last week and informed him of the conclusion of his complaint and again apologized for his and his family’s loss of Apollo."
Bacon recorded himself asking neighbors if they owned pellet guns. When he got to Kuehner’s home, he admitted to owning a pellet gun.
“Did you shoot my dog?” asked Bacon.
Video of the exchange shows Kuehner identify himself as a St. Charles County sheriff’s deputy.
“What was your dog doing in my yard?” Kuehner asked Bacon.
“All he ever wanted to do was make friends with everybody he met,” said Bacon.
“What do you got a pit bull?” the neighbor asked.
“He’s not a pit bull,” said Bacon.
Bacon said he never saw his dog go near the deputy’s yard.
“I have extreme concerns about this man being in a position of public trust,” Bacon told 5 On Your Side.
Kuehner has not responded to requests for comment.
The St. Charles County Sheriff's Department stationed a deputy outside of his house shortly after the dog’s death.