71-year-old Rudolph Poppe was sentenced this week to 90 days in prison and five years probation for brutally beating his dog to death with a sledgehammer.
On July 12th, police were called to Poppe’s home where horrified neighbors say they witnessed the man take a sledgehammer and beat the 13-year-old golden retriever named Millie over the headed. Reports show that onlookers pleaded with Poppe to try to get him to take the dog to be euthanized, but he refused and continued to beat the animal.
When police arrived at the home, they discovered the animal lying in the driveway with a plastic bag over its head. The dog’s skull was crushed and it was bleeding very badly, but at that point, it was still alive and even tried to stand up two times. A rescue group arrived on scene and took the dog to the vet where it was euthanized that same night.
When officers attempted to arrest Poppe, he resisted, maintaining that he was trying to “put the dog out of its misery.” Police were able to get Poppe on the ground and handcuff him before putting him in the police car.
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Minnesota Judge Rex Stacey has now sentenced Poppe to 90 days in prison and five years probation for the crime, and the sentence has received mixed reactions. While in court, Judge Stacey said that her decision to send him to jail was because of what young children in the neighborhood had to witness that day.
"I think about the kids in the neighborhood who saw this, whose parents pleaded with you not to do this,” said Judge Stacey. “I was never intent on sending you to prison, but those kids, I want their parents to be able to tell them you went to jail for it.”
Poppe maintained that he was only trying to put his elderly dog out of its misery in the same way his stepfather used to kill their older horses on their family farm. The judge did not buy it.
"The way we treat our pets defines us," said Judge Stacey. "You don't live on a farm, Mr. Poppe. You're not your stepfather. I'm doing a very specific thing. I'm judging you for what you did that day."