A New Jersey man with the nickname “Wild Willie” showed how wild he could be when he casually took aim and fatally shot a neighbor’s poodle – a comfort dog for a now heartbroken Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD, authorities and family members said Friday.
The pom poodle, named Toby, had to be euthanized after 64-year-old William Stromel of Maple Shade Township shot the pooch in the head with an air rifle when it scampered past his property on Sept. 17, Burlington County prosecutors said.
The poodle had gotten out of his front yard and was walking down the block when Stromel took aim at the dog and fired.
The small, white, fluffy dog was found howling in pain by a neighbor. He was taken to a local veterinarian, where it was discovered he had been shot in the head.
Toby was euthanized the next day.
The pup’s heartbroken owners created a Gofundme page and raised about $2,600 to pay for Toby’s veterinarian bills.
“My grandparents’ pom-poodle pup, Toby, escaped from their yard and made his way down Fifth Avenue where some psychopath shot him in the head,” Amber Cook, the granddaughter of Toby’s owner, wrote on the page. “My grandfather is a veteran and this dog was not only his best friend but also helped with his PTSD and depression.”
“Toby was the sweetest little dog in the world,” Cook wrote. “There are no words to describe how much he meant to our family.”
An investigation by Maple Shade Township police revealed that Stromel opened fire on the dog even though Toby was never on his property. Stromel then gave the air rifle to a friend for safe keeping.
Cops ultimately recovered the air rifle and was able to match it to the slug removed from Toby’s skull. Police also found a .22 caliber pistol inside his home, prosecutors said.
Police arrested Stromel on Thursday and charged him with animal cruelty and weapons possession. He is expected to be arraigned on the charges Friday.