Farmer sentenced in dog poisoning

Published December 4, 2008 7:39 pm
Pesticide » Boone the blue-tick hound had rare hunting skills, witnesses said.
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At 4 years old, Boone was at the top of his game as a bear hunter when he was struck down last year by pesticide-soaked cat food.

On Wednesday, the Green River melon farmer responsible for the blue-tick coon hound's death was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution to the dog's owner and fined $2,500 for a misdemeanor violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

U.S. Magistrate Brooke Wells also imposed a 30-day suspended prison sentence and placed Chris C. Dunhan -- a licensed pesticide applicator who had placed the cat food in his melon fields -- on one year of probation. Dunham, 51, pleaded guilty in September in a plea bargain.

Federal prosecutors had asked for the $5,000 in restitution, saying the amount was appropriate considering Boone's experience and the training required to make him proficient.

Sportsmen familiar with the hound filed statements in court attesting to his worth.

Jeff Hopkins, a Colorado dog trainer who has hunted bear and lion with Boone, said the animal had rare skills and was so persistent that he once stayed on the trail of a "mean bear" for more than 12 hours.

"This is hard to find in a dog," he said.

And Emery County hunter Greg Funk said Boone was one of the best dogs he had ever seen.

"I have watched Boone take a cold track that no other dog could even smell," Funk wrote. "Boone could do it all."

According to court records, Dunham put about 50 paper bowls holding cat food laced with the pesticide Furadan in his fields in summer 2007 to keep animals from eating the crops. The label for the pesticide does not allow it to be used this way, federal prosecutors say.

They say that a few weeks later, Dunham invited Green River resident Guy Webster and his dogs onto the property to hunt a bear he wanted removed. Boone ingested some of the cat food and died soon after.

Webster said Thursday that Boone, whom he bought when he was 3 months old, had been the best among all his dogs at the time. He currently is training three puppies and hopes one will be able to replace the hound.


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