Puppies For The 2nd Amendment
Trigger the Puppy says: Stick this in your pipes and smoke it, liberal 2nd Amendment haters.
Gun-wielding pup triggers storm of national attention: Man accused of killing dogs says he didn't want to do it
September 11, 2004
The Escambia County Animal Shelter named them after guns -- Remington, Winchester, Colt and Trigger, the rascal of the bunch.
They are the most famous dogs in the Pensacola Bay Area, drawing attention from journalists and well-wishers around the world.
Earlier this week, deputies said Jerry Allen Bradford of Bratt grew tired of chasing a litter of seven out of neighbors' yards, shot three puppies and placed them in a shallow grave.
The other four survived because Trigger, a good-looking shepherd-mix pup of 12 pounds, wiggled and twisted as Bradford prepared to shoot them. The pup put its paw on the trigger of a .38-caliber revolver, firing a bullet into Bradford's wrist.
Escambia County sheriff's deputies, alerted to the shooting, rescued Trigger and the others and took them to the Escambia County Animal Shelter off Fairfield Drive. The deputies dug up the deceased dogs as evidence.
Bradford, 37, an unemployed maintenance technician, spent the week at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. He returned home Friday and spent much of the day watching television, a blanket wrapped around his legs, his left wrist in a cast, still numb from pain.
He cried as he spoke about Monday's events, claiming he did just what he thought was right. He thought it was better than dropping them off on a street corner.
"I didn't want to do it,'' he said in his living room, a quiet dog named Shadow sitting in his lap. "I'm the type of person who doesn't like to see a dog tied to a chain. I don't like to see them in a itty-bitty bin. I was crying the whole time I did it.''
Bradford said he loves dogs. He's the type who spends 30 minutes just shopping for the perfect dog food.
But Bradford hasn't been well lately. As he got weaker, he couldn't control his pups. He tried for three months to give them away, asking everyone he saw, "Anybody need a dog?''
But no one ever did.
Bradford considered taking them to the Escambia County (Ala.) Animal Shelter in Atmore. But, at $10 for each animal taken in, he couldn't afford it.
Neighbors had complained about the puppies getting into their yards, doing what dogs do, starting trouble. And that weighed on Bradford.
"You just can't have neighbors arguing over dogs,'' he said.
So on Monday, Bradford woke up, walked out back and called for them. He saw one nosing around in a neighbors' yard and thought: "That's it. I have to do something.''
He walked about 100 yards up a trail and dug a shallow hole on his mother-in-law's property. He carried two puppies back and shot them with the revolver.
He returned home and killed a third with a rifle. He was about to kill Nos. 4 and 5 when the imp of the litter, Trigger, saved the day.
The Escambia County Sheriff's Office released details of the incidents Wednesday. National media since have picked up the story, flooding the department with calls and e-mails.
Sgt. Ted Roy had 32 calls to return Friday, including one from the National Enquirer and another from the New York Daily News.
He said the case is under judicial review, adding that if an arrest warrant for animal cruelty is issued, it probably won't be delivered until early next week. If charged and convicted, Bradford could face five years in prison.
"But all these people calling, they don't care about the man,'' Roy said. "It's all about the puppies.''
Dozens of people have contacted the Escambia County Animal Shelter about adopting them.
Shelter director Bruce Rova stayed at his office until 9 p.m. earlier this week, answering about 90 e-mails from around the world.
Jenny from Australia wrote that "humans can be so cruel sometimes (that) one has to think if we are from the same planet as other animals that live on this earth.''
Dave from Pennsylvania wrote that his family is about six months from retiring in Vermont, where "we have 62 acres in a very rural area. A Shepherd Husky mix would be in heaven there.''
Wrote Pam from Massachusetts: "We just adopted a kitten last week that was thrown from a car window on the southeast expressway in Boston. Please let me know when the pups are available.''
Rova, 56, retired from the Navy Supply Corps, has worked at the shelter for 10 years. He said cruelty cases are increasing in Escambia County. Most tips come anonymously, a voice wanting to turn in a neighbor.
"Normally, we don't try to proceed with criminal charges because we catch them in the early phases,'' he said. "We wouldn't have known about this one, had the man not (been) shot.''
Rova walked to the back of the shelter, past a few strays taking naps in their cages, and stuck his fingers through a chain-link fence. Four puppies ran toward him, licking his fingers.
"There's Trigger,'' Rova said, pointing to a brown pup with a white chest and black-tip tail. "We don't know for sure that he's the one that pulled the trigger, but of the four, he seems like the one.''
Indeed, Trigger is playful. While the others try to sleep, he bounces around -- one ear up, the other down -- biting their tails, licking their ears, being a pest.
The puppies got a flea bath upon arrival. They took some deworming medication. But, otherwise, they are in good health, no sign of abuse or neglect.
As soon as the State Attorney's Office gives its approval, the dogs will go up for adoption. Rova already has a list of two dozen local families wanting to rescue the dogs.
He'll try to have his staff call everyone simultaneously, then open it up first come, first served.
"You try to keep a little bit of humor in a sad situation such as this,'' Rova said, referring to playfully naming the dogs after guns. "But the response from everybody, here and everywhere else, has been very, very heart warming.'
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