Dog shot dead in her yard

Skhoop on deck

Skhoop in the good times

Anchorage’s Dave Brailey spent “National Pet Day” mourning the canine best friend shot dead in his yard last week by a new neighbor who either didn’t know or didn’t care about invisible fences.

Skhoop was a seven-year-old, chocolate labrador retriever who hiked and climbed and skied with Brailey, his family and his friends. Jason Mellerstig killed her in a quiet neighborhood near Campbell Lake because she barked at him and his son. He told Anchorage Police he felt threatened.

Brailey was at home when he heard first the barking of Skhoop and then the start of the shooting.

“I’m working outside,” he said in a telephone interview Monday “It’s a beautiful day. I’m  in the driveway, and I hear maybe four or five barks. When she barks, that’s not acceptable.”

Being a good neighbor, Brailey started around the house to tell Skhoop to quiet down. That  was when the gunfire started.

“It wasn’t just one shot,” Brailey said “It was blam, blam, blam, blam.”

Brailey ran toward the sound and into the gunfire. He doesn’t remember how many shots were fired — six, eight, maybe 10. He remembers bullets kicking up some rock chips hidden in the grass, the same rock chips his lawn mower kicks up in the summer.

He ignored them.


“I just went to the dog,” he said. “It was horrible, but thank God she died quickly, like before she hit the ground.”

New neighbor Mellerstig was standing in the street.

“He was complete calm,” Brailey said. Skhoop’s owner doesn’t remember exactly what words were exchanged. He does remember Mellerstig saying he was “sorry. I’m sorry.”

Mellerstig could not be reached for this story.

Brailey doesn’t know if he voiced the thoughts racing through his head at the time: “What the hell are you doing opening up with a semi-automatic handgun in a neighborhood full of people and kids?”

“I was in shock,” Brailey admitted. “I walked away in shock.”

Still in shock, he sat down for a conference call seven minutes later. A hydrologist who works out of his home, Brailey could only remember his shock-numbed brain trying to focus on professional responsibilities.

“I kind of had to listen to what was being said on the phone,” he said, but he wasn’t really listening all that well. His mind was elsewhere.

Then “my wife came and home and was crying,” he said, and then the police and animal control showed up.

Brailey remembers an APD officer asking “‘what do you want me to do?’ I couldn’t talk,” Brailey said. “I was so emotional.”

Mellerstig, a blonde man with a friendly face, was out in the street again. The APD officer was asking him questions, too.

“You two have met, obviously,” Brailey remembered the officer saying. Brailey said, “no;” they’d never met. The officer, according to Brailey, explained that “(Mellerstig) said he felt threatened. The police officer was obviously worried something was going to happen between us.”

Brailey pointed out that Skhoop was in his yard, and that Mellerstig had parked his Ford F150 pickup with its tires on the edge of the same yard. He didn’t know what else to say.

“It was just crazy,” he said. “I was so shell-shocked. This was literally the very first day he was in the house. Just this last Thursday his driveway was full of moving vehicles.


“My dog was in a radio-collar fence. The dog does not come out of the yard. If she comes out of the yard, she gets shocked. She knows exactly where the shock collar line is. It worked like a charm. She was like a little queen. She’d sit in the front yard and just be happy.”

Brailey finds it hard to believe Mellerstig was unaware of the invisible fence. Brailey said his wife, Melanie Janigo, had seen Mellerstig going back and forth to his truck all morning on the day of the shooting with Skhoop in the yard.

“If he was frightened by her, he would have noticed she didn’t come off the grass,” said Brailey, who mainly can’t understand why Mellerstig didn’t just ask about the dog if he was worried about the possibility Skhoop was aggressive.

“Why not say something?” he asked. “Why not yell? I’d come running. He said nothing to me before shooting my dog. He said nothing to me. Zero.”

Former Skhoop dog sitters said they never saw any hint of aggression from the Lab.

“We have actually watched scoop a number of times, really nice, friendly chocolate lab,” said Brailey friend Laurie Sitkiewicz. “(This is) just horrible. I can’t even get my brain wrapped around it.”

Mellerstig’s Facebook page indicates he’s new to Alaska from California. It describes him as a graduate of Brown University, University of Oxford and the UCLA Law School. A 2007 press release from Hollywood Studios International in Beverly Hills identifies him as the newly hired vice president of business affairs there.

“Jason started in the business as a cameraman, and has produced and directed several independent films,” it says. “He has served in the Business and Legal Affairs departments of Carsey-Werner (“That 70s Show”), The Yari Film Group (“Crash,” “The Illusionist”), I.L. Films, Fox, ABC and MGM….He was educated at Brown University, Oxford University, the UCLA School of Law and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

“Prior to starting in the entertainment business, Mr. Mellerstig worked as a park ranger in Alaska, Hawaii and Florida, assisted a member of Congress, a Rhode Island State Assemblyman, and served the United Nations Secretariat in New York City. He is a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor, with ratings in multi-engine aircraft, gliders, seaplanes and helicopters.”

Mellerstig, who is in his 40s, apparently moved to Alaska to take a job as a commercial airline pilot. Anchorage police are investigating the shooting. It is illegal to discharge a firearm within the municipality, but there is an exception for self-defense shootings.

Brailey simply cannot conceive of anyone needing to shoot Skhoop in self-defense.

“She was a family dog, slept in the house every night, got up on the couch,” he said. “She was a wonderful ski dog, a river dog with rafters. We worked on the Susitna Dam Project and had a camp above Devil’s Canyon. We took her as a bear dog so she was in the camp all day when she left. She totally barked off one family of bears.

“She was a part of our family. My kids are grown now, but she grew up with them. (Still), I think I’m taking this hardest. I’m a work at home scientist, and this dog was my companion. We’re empty nesters now.”


Skhoop on a family ski outing

Dogs have a way of taking over people’s lives this way. Brailey said he misses Skhoop so much it hurts.

“It’s really traumatic,” he said. “It almost seems to be getting worse and worse day by day. I can’t even think. We can’t even sleep. It’s horrible.”

He put out a little tribute to Schoop near where she died in the yard. Neighbors have been coming by to drop off flowers.

“There’s this little pile of flowers there now,” he said. “Everybody walks their dogs past there. There must be 30 or 40 dog walkers a day go by.”

Many of the them are fearful now. The local homeowners association was planning a Monday night meeting to talk about what happened. Shootings of any kind rarely happen in the upscale community that surrounds the private lake. This one seemed to have rattled a lot of people to the core.



155 replies »

  1. Ok if his face book page says he is an experienced park ranger, hmmm!!!. Shouldn’t fear animals then, I would think!!! Just moved to Alaska, believe the law says residents can carry guns, not California transplants. The law says you have the right to use a gun to protect life and property. Not because you’re scared. With a legal background, he should know that, he should also know he was breaking the law hmmm!!! We are talking about a dog here, not a bear. This didn’t happen in the bush, this was our neighborhoods!!! I can think of several bear encounters where I was scared, and the bear is still alive.

    Nice guy or not, with the act of aggression like “shooting my dog in my yard”. Just like someone stated he had no history of the dog or knowledge of the fence. The dog owner would have had no knowledge that he wasn’t a drunk or under the influence of drugs or that the gun wouldn’t be pointed at him next.

    I would most likely have felt fear for my life. He’s lucky he’s alive!!!

    Feel bad for the dog and the dog owner!!! Not the Californian.

    Sounds like a open and shut case to me,.hope he gets what coming to him. But then again I am sure our corrupt legal system will let him off and it sounds like he has enough money to buy his freedom!

  2. I think Mr Mellerstigs story is Bull!! Otherwise he would have spoken to the owner as a concerned neighbor instead of a gunhappy toteing idiot!! I am now concerned about this man living in that neighborhood who happens to be pretty loose with a gun………who is he going to shoot next because “he felt threatened”…….our kids and grandkids?
    Now I am feeling unsafe and threatened by his man…..

  3. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happened. The shooter assumed the dog would endanger his children when he was gone. He set the dog up to be executed. He either didn’t know or didn’t care about the invisible fence. I have a difficult time believing he was “Sorry” for killing the dog. However NOW he may be sorry he ever moved here. I hope he just goes away, in handcuffs. Speaking of which: why is the police asking the dog owner what he wants him to do? ENFORCE THE LAW!! Trespassing, illegally discharging a firearm, animal cruelty, etc, etc,

  4. I have 2 lab mixes and a collie mix that I let out in my fenced back yard. They are friendly but can be noisy to people nearby. My next door neighbor told me that if one of them charges him he will shoot it, and if he gets bit, he will sue. And he’s my cousin! And I have no problem with that. Dogs can be scary, they can and will attack, and their attacks can be deadly. Given that the shooter had no knowledge of this dog or it’s containment system, it seems entirely prudent to me that he took the action that he did. I would do the same, and in fact was very close once to shooting an aggressive dog on a couple of occasions. Once the owner called the dog off, the other occasion I was fortunate to have pepper spray handy, which ended the dog’s desire to tangle with me.

    • Agreed, Alan, dogs can be both scary and dangerous, but how do we know this: “Given that the shooter had no knowledge of this dog or it’s containment system…?”

  5. As a qualified nature conservation officer here in South Africa, I express my deepest sympathies for the family to whom this animal belonged. Working in the bush and within a game reserve environment, we have had to shoot dogs charging etc. This is a fact and the greater picture has to be held in ones mind all the time. In an urban environment, law abiding firearm owners do not just shoot dogs within their neighborhood. Never happens here. To prosecute somebody over this, is insane, as no rational person would just shoot a dog with his children in the car etc. I am through experience included to agree that the dog caused the shooter to be very alarmed and fearing for his children lives acted within reason.

  6. If a dog in moving towards me in an aggressive manner, I will shoot it. Especially if my children are put in danger. I’m a dog lover too. Owners need to make sure their pets are under control. Electric fences have failed more times than I remember. The dog should have been on a lead.

    • electric fences do fail, Mike Shovel. there is no indication this one did. the dog had been staying behind it for a year. there wasn’t just an electric fence holding it back anymore. operant conditioning was at work. if a witness who say the end of the shooting — with the owner who left at the first gunshot still running across the yard — is to be believed, and that witness has the least motive of anyone involved her to shade the truth, the fence probably worked so well it go the dog killed.

  7. I have a cocker spaniel that barks and will charge, but not bite. Having read the literature on “invisible” fences, I have chosen not to let her outside of our privacy fenced yard without being securely leashed to me.

    She hasn’t been shot so far. And if she got out and charged someone with a kid, I might shoot her myself.

  8. First of all, the shock collar and invisible fence can be simply disregarded from the whole argument because, as Use of Force Policy everywhere is written, a “reasonable and prudent” person could not have recognized it for what it was on a running dog in that split second.
    The man made a split second decision to keep his sons safe from a large dog, apparently unrestrained,that was acting aggressively. It’s easy to sit in your recliner and Monday morning quarterback this, but none of you saw what he saw.

    • cody: you make a big assumption here that he was unaware of the electric fence or of the dog being conditioned to stay in its yard where it stayed until died. Mr. Mellerstig might well have been aware of that. he’d had days to observe the dogs behavior. but we don’t know what he knew because no one has asked him the questions. we don’t even know how the dog ended up at the back of the truck — 6 to 10 feet behind the passenger side door — when he said he shot a charging dog at that door. given the split seconds that would have been involved here, he would have had to shoot the dog at very close range — maybe 3 to 6 feet. go draw the vectors. how does the dog then turn and end up behind the truck? was it wounded and did it stumble off? possible, but Mr. Mellerstig never said a thing about that.

  9. I am sitting here in Madrid reading this news item and discussing it wil several friends over coffee. Even here in liberal Europe we cannot believe somebody whose loose dog running up on a man and his child has any right to blame anybody but himself for his do getting shot.

    • john — the hole in your logic is that the dog wasn’t “loose.” it was in the man’s yard contained by a fence, albeit an invisible fence. but let’s ignore that and assume that it was simply a well-trained dog conditioned to stay in the yard. so your argument is that it’s then OK for someone to walk into the yard and shoot it because it comes running up barking and snarling? is that what they do in Spain? i’ve never hiked there. only in Italy, France and Switzerland. and i know that in the Dolomoties where some trails run through private property and there are gates they ask you to close behind to keep animals in i’ve had dogs run up to me, and cows, and never shot any of them. is it different in Spain? could i venture across a farmer’s property there and shoot a cow? i have bad memories of mad cows from childhood. i find them more threatening than Alaska grizzly bears. i would almost visit Spain just for a chance to shoot a charging cow and get even for all the times they terrorized me as a child.

      • It’s terrible to lose a pet. If nothing else, let’s learn from this.
        1. Our gun laws are insane – it should not be legal to carry a loaded gun in town. Police and the paranoid are pretty much the only ones carrying right now. I’m not sure I trust the former, they’re only human, but I sure as h*ll don’t trust the latter.
        2. I believe Alaska has a “stand your ground” law. This illustrates how dangerous that is (as if we did not already have illustration of that in other states). At least this time it was a dog and not a person. But we know that even though the target was the dog, apparently, any time you discharge a gun in town you are endangering people for thousands of yards if not more around you (any gun experts may know the exact distance but I know it’s a long way).
        3. If the only thing between your aggressive dog and the public is an electric fence, you should flag it and put up a sign, until we fix 1 and 2 above.

        Many properties in Anchorage with lawns and no sidewalks, have the lawn extending into the public right of way. I’ve seen no discussion of where the yard legally ended. Of course the dog could not know this, nor could any of the people commenting that “the dog was in its yard”. Also no information about when that electric fence was put up and why (before or after being cited by Animal Control), and no discussion of why the dog was labeled loose and aggressive (no fence, or failed fence, or something else entirely)?

        So please let’s remember what we do not know, and maybe just work towards making this a better community by becoming aware of the problems with our laws and with our behaviors that lead to this.
        And also please let’s not pretend this is journalism.

  10. Nobody is happy about the loss of a beloved pet. But when only one side of a story is presented, it’s very difficult to see the complete picture. Missing from this account are the facts that Skhoop was classified as a “loose and aggressive dog” by animal control a year ago. Many such dogs can be loving family pets, but they should be restrained by the owner for the good of both the community and the dog. Also missing is any input from Mr. Mellerstig who, according to media reports, had a few seconds to try to interpret the dog’s aggressive behavior as he tried to safeguard his son’s safety. If it were me and my son, and a dog appeared to be in attack mode, I would seek to safeguard my child by any means necessary.

    • and missing from this comment, grey padre, is the fact the dog was restrained. it was in its own yard behind an invisible fence that had been working for a year. the dog was clearly conditioned (ie. trained to stop) at that boundary. we also have a limited poorly reported version of Mr. Mellerstig’s account in which he says he had a few seconds to react when the dog attacked while he was in it’s yard. Mr. Mellerstig has a motive to bend the truth. we have another account from a witness to the shooting who saw Mr. Mellerstig as the shots were ending — and soon enough to see the dog owner, who started across his lawn at the sound of the first shots — still running across the lawn. that account puts Mr. Mellerstig in the street with his infant son behind the driver’s side door of the truck safely separated from the dog on the other side. i totally agree with your observation that “I would seek to safeguard my child by any means necessary.” so would i. i’m not sure that’s what happened here. the evidence would indicate the situation might, in fact, be quite different.

  11. This guy needs to move back to California, there would be problems if he shot my dog, that is for sure.

  12. Dave and Melanie,

    I am so sad and angry after reading this. Incomprehensible! You’re in my thoughts.

  13. Unbelievable!! This person shouldn’t be allowed to have not even a hair brush in his possesion. Complete idiot, devoid of any kind of common sense. Stupidity is his only possession.

  14. Dave and Melanie – What a heart-breaking story. I am so sorry this a-hole did this to your sweet dog.

  15. What an example to set for his son. Piss poor judgement. I’m a responsible gun owner & idiot’s like him show not be allowed to own a gun.

  16. LR What help is needed to get this idiot in court? I applaud you, Brialey, for not just shooting the idiot. That would have been very wrong, but I am afraid I would have! I am so sorry for your loss.

  17. I cannot fathom what Skhoop’s family is going throught right now. What a senseless tragedy. I’m so sorry.

  18. When is the last time anybody shot a neighbor’s dog dead in Anchorage? I remember the guy in Spenard who put a bear trap along with some meat in a 5-gallon plastic bucket to snare a local pit bull. Killed the dog. But a shooting?

  19. Wow look at me I’m a wanna be Alaskan and now I can carry a gun anywhere isn’t that cool. Bang bang your dog is dead. .

  20. Im sorry,but the dog was in his yard. What scares me is this POS with his own child is just opening fire in the midst of a kid friendly neighborhood. Dogs bark, the dog never left his yard, so why shoot him? Why because he is another gun happy person walking around.I am not against owning guns, im against stupid people owning guns.

  21. Sheesh, I wish you dog lovers could go back and read all the comments with a more open mind and really listen to how you sound. Dogs are NOT human beings no matter how much you love them. It is my opinion that there has been a direct relationship in the elevation of pets to the status of “family” to the devaluing of human life in general. Dogs are awesome creatures who can assist the blind, do search and rescue, smell out drugs, work as service animals in numerous ways, keep loneliness at bay, etc. It would be hard to name all the good they can do–but if you have ever seen a child’s face mauled by a dog, you would know that dogs can also cause grievous harm and be VERY frightening. This man is not a “moron”, he is a concerned father! I hope the neighbors can be a little more charitable than they sound on this forum.

    • your dog is a dog, Gretchen; my dog is family. yes there is a disconnect here. yes dogs are potentially dangerous. so are guns. was a child in danger of being mauled ? we don’t know. Mellerstig has now said he was “preparing to load” his three-year-old in the truck when the dog showed up, but what does that mean? he needs one hand to get the gun. where does the child go? is the child in one hand, the gun in the other? singlehand, offhand, running dog… that’s a tough shot. is the child already in the car seat so Mellerstig can use two hands? standing next to his father? why doesn’t Mellerstig get in the truck from the road side and avoid putting himself in a position where the truck is between him and the road when the dog allegedly attacks? was he simply unaware the neighbor had a dog? there are a lot of questions here yet. Mellerstig’s resume makes it clear he’s no “moron.” but the issue isn’t about intelligence level; it’s about judgment.

    • It doesn’t matter to me if dogs aren’t humans. There are lot of humans not worth a good dog’s life. Dog maulings are terrible, that is true, but the harm done by humans the world over is much worse.

      A “concerned father” should be “concerned” enough to realize that having handguns around is the most dangerous thing he can do to his kids. If he wants to protect his kids he should never have guns in his house. I know a pediatrician who won’t take on patients whose parents keep guns in the house, and I support that all the way.

    • The guy is a tool. He opened fire in a neighborhood. What ever happened to introducing yourself to the neighbors. If I am worried about a dog attacking my kid, I make damn sure my kid knows what to do. I have a 5 year old and a nine year old. They have more common sense that this trigger happy moron. This guy has no hope for being seen as good neighbor, responsible gun owner, or decent community member. Stay in your house, loser. Try not kill anyone when you’re going to work or taking out the garbage.

  22. Did he reload his weapon on the way to drop his kid off at school? Carrying a weapon on school property is illegal and probably enough to lose his pilot’s license.

  23. Run this guy out of town , and hope he never looks back, my heart hurts for this family , and I care nothing about the perpetrators side .. Sounds like A bad person to know , Just go away for good

  24. It seems several mistakes were made here and unfortunately the dog lost. If I lived in a neighborhood and saw someone new moving into my neighborhood I would go introduce myself, my family and my dog. I would have let my neighbor know that my dog was friendly. That would have saved a life. Secondly, did the man who did the shooting have a permit to carry a gun. It seems as if this weapon appeared out of nowhere. Most people have their weapons in their homes under lock and key(especially if one has small children). So how did this weapon appear so quickly? My daughter was viciously attacked by a dog, she is now scared of dogs that come running towards her. Perhaps the man has been attacked before. I have also had a dog shot for no reason other than it wasn’t in our yard. It is an unfortunate event that we all can take some part of this tragedy and learn from it.
    I hope everyone who is involved in this sad event can find it in their hearts to forgive the other, because tall fences do not build good neighbors. And to have a neighbor that you dislike is sad, neighbors can be helpful, they can become long time friends. I hope these two families can work this out and meet somewhere in the middle, for their sakes and the sakes of the children involved.

    • That’s a good point and a really scary one to consider. There are too many people itching to do this kind of thing in this town.

  25. In response to Gary Cox, lets not forget that Robert Hansen – the butcher baker- was also considered a good family man who was liked by all in his community until they found out that he was a calculating serial killing pyschopath. Mr Mellerstig was smiling in the photo that was taken by the pet owner minutes after the shooting. His syrupy smile is chilling. I am certain he pre-meditated this crime. Sure the dog had an aggressive bark. Sure that probably made him nervous to have his kids move in next to it as he watched her bark for 2 hours unloading his stuff from his car that was parked on her yard. But that doesn’t give him the right to kill her. He was a park ranger and a lawyer. He knew what he had to do to get away with killing this dog.

  26. There’s obviously two sides of this story; not sure Craig Medred accomplished anything substantive other than polarizing the readers. I just don’t see any journalistic integrity in this piece, sadly, by presenting a obviously subjective opinion without considering the negative impacts this event is likely to have on Mr. Mellerstig and his family. Regardless of what happened and how, if a crime was committed then our criminal justice system should at least have a chance to weigh in before we run this guy “out of town” or worse as indicated by some of the comments above. It’s our Rule of Law that separates from the animals. Abandon that and we might as well just arm every man, women and child and shoot it out in the streets. Hopefully, that WASN’T what you were going for Craig. At the very least, I think your one-sided reporting of this matter is disgraceful, inappropriate, and borders on journalistic negligence. If the shooter gets somehow vindicated in this matter, and he or his children are then bullied or injured at school or otherwise, then you alone shall bear the burden of being the catalyst of that harm. Is you home constructed of wood or glass Craig? Mine is glass so I refrain from hurtling stones. Perhaps you’ll consider that in the future when you welcome new residents to Anchorage.

  27. According to Alaska Dispatch, both the neighbor and the dog owner agree that the dog’s body lay halfway across the property line, with the front half on the street and the rear on the property. Craig Medred, if the dog did not leave the yard why was the dog partially on the street? Even if the dog was wholly on the property when it was shot, the fact that it was partially on the street when it died indicates that it was running toward the neighbor and his child at a high rate of speed when it was shot. Also, this dog had recently been classified as loose and aggressive dog. The safety and life of a human being trumps the life of an animal every day.

  28. Interesting to read all the accounts here. I’m a huge dog lover – have 4 of them now.

    Some reports state the neighbor was putting his 3 year old child in the car seat on the passenger side of his vehicle which was on the edge of the street near the dog owner’s property line. Having put my young sons in the vehicle in a similar manner there was no where for this guy to go – he was stuck between the dog and the vehicle. Having just moved in it was probably his first interaction with the dog – he had no idea there was an electric fence to keep the dog in the yard – there are no signs to alert him to that fact.

    And it is quite ironic – he had to judge the dog on a single interaction with it. Now everyone is judging him on his single act. Unfortunately he killed the dog and his future in the neighborhood in less than a couple seconds. Moreover, no one knows this guy except for this one act – he had the same knowledge of the dog as you do of him. However, when someone who does know him states their opinion of him based on interactions with the shooter, everyone slams him. Yet all those who knew the dog (and quite a few confirming its tendencies to bark and charge) dismiss the third party’s opinion immediately. Interesting world we live in…

    • it is. and i bet Mellerstig is now wishing (or at least i hope he is) that he’s just jumped in the cab with the kid and slammed the door. i had a friend who did that when charged by a bear.

      • Unless the car seat is smaller than the newer ones we have or it is an extraordinarily large vehicle it would be almost impossible to do that – just not enough room… Stuck between a dog, the open vehicle door and the rest of the vehicle was a bad position to put himself in…

  29. The guy moves into a neighborhood and shoots the neighbors dog within the first week? People he’s never talked to, a dog he doesn’t know? What a dick. There is something wrong with anyone who could even think that is ok. My heart breaks for Dave and Melanie.

  30. I am the nephew of skhoops owner and have grown up with Skhoop since she was a puppy. There was never a mean bone in her body and has always been a gentle dog that played with the smaller cousins at our family gatherings at their house. Never biting charging snarling anything in that sort of matter. Sure she would bark in her own lawn but what normal dog doesn’t bark. It’s disgusting to think the kind of person that can shoot a member of someone else’s family can seem so “normal” and educated. There isn’t a sliver of evidence proving that Skhoop charged, only the testimony of the assailant, Jason, who has a lot to lose. Justice needs to be served. He had no right to kill a loving breathing member of someone else’s family when there were a multitude of other options to avoid ending a living beings life. There is no justification. #RIPSkhoop

    • I don’t believe for a second the dog “charged, teeth bared, lips snarling” at him. I think he just saw an opportunity to finally use his precious handgun and took it. The language that he uses is coded; it’s language that gun nuts use when fantasizing about how and when to use their toys. They pull it from law enforcement training, as if they are cops.

      He stated he had time to yell at the dog and then ascertain that the yelling didn’t work, THEN he drew and fired. All that activity takes a while, many seconds. He had plenty of time to retreat into his truck and he didn’t, because he WANTED to use his gun.

      From reading all the comments from people who knew the dog, I’m developing the impression of a guy who shot down a dog that was merely barking at him because he was pretty much in its yard.

  31. My heart goes out to you Dave and Mel. I’m not sure how your sense of “vigilante” justice is not overwhelming you, but know that this community is behind you 98% (subtracting the idiots). I am proud to know such a wonderful family who manage tragedy with grace. Stay above the fray, leave the hateful idiots to themselves. So sorry for your loss.

  32. Please read Kelsey Hovden’s comment everyone. I think evidence over many years of peaceful neighborhood living should carry some weight. Kelsey reflected on Skhoop being a great neighbor dog for her whole life. We knew Skhoop well. She was a really good dog. This is all so unbelievable. I do not want this unstable person’s actions to define our town or state. I really wish they would move back to wherever they came from…looks like a long line of places. I can’t even imagine having someone like this in our neighborhood, much less someone with this sorry lack of impulse control flying a plane with passengers. This is so far out of the norm that I hope this man gets the help he needs and that his family is safe. My heart goes out to the Campbell Lake community and Skhoops heartbroken family.

  33. The dog only barked a few times, that’s not aggression that’s saying hello. I’ve never seen and aggressive lab, and I watch a lot of different labs. And why did this person have a gun at the ready so quickly, in the middle of the city? There’s simply no excuse for that kind of behavior, quite frankly I would be scared to live near someone like this. Whatever happened to talking to your neighbor to address your concerns? I second the above, what’s a lab going to do to someone but slobber, lick and beg for fetch until it quivers itself into exhaustion?

  34. Problem is that invisible fences do not always work and your new neighbor would have no idea you had one or not. I have seen many dogs charge through the electric shocks the collars give them when they really want to get at something. Doesn’t matter how hard the owner is willing to electrocute their “beloved” pet they can and do still get through.

    NOT a fan of the cruelty of electric shock on animals for any reason-especially just to get a cheap fence. I have seen people even try using TWO of them with TWO cruel electric shock collars and still the dogs ramped up and would charge through the electric torture.

    He had no right to shoot at anything in your yard but if your dog was charging and near the property line, he shouldn’t have to wait and risk injury or try to run to save your dog and protect himself or his animals and kids. Labs have great PR but they aren’t always friendly and again, your neighbor would not know how your dog behaves. If your dog knocked down a small child requiring an ER visit and expensive scans like an MRI don’t even try to act like you’d take responsibility for your dog’s actions and pay the entire bill without question. And NO, your negligence in letting your dog run wild is not covered by their medical insurance.

    It was up to you to teach your dog but instead you chose electrocution instead of training. That alone would account for easy excitement and difficulty staying calm…which is exactly what your neighbor saw. Sad but you were the owner and you failed to train your dog putting them at terrible risk.

    • Ted: An invisible fence isn’t so much a barrier as a training device. In this case, the training seems to have worked. By all indications Skhoop died within the perimeter in which she was trained to stay. The shooter now says the incident lasted three seconds as he was getting ready to put his kid in the truck. If you’ve got three seconds, it’s a lot easier to jump in the truck with the kid than start shooting. It’s all just weird.

      • That three seconds thing is clearly easily debunked. The dog owner had time to hear the dog bark 4 or 5 times and start walking around to the front of the house to see what was going on. That takes WAY more than three seconds, as does Mellerstig’s shouting at the dog then drawing and firing.

        Mellerstig’s account really stinks.

  35. The article is lacking in some details, such as what was Mr. Mellerstig doing out there in the street? Was he out for a walk? Was he just standing around waiting for the dog to bark at him? Who else was there? What?

    But the real question is why was he carrying a gun in the first place? My answer is because he was expecting to use it. He made a fully informed conscious decision to carry a loaded, lethal weapon with him out into public when he left his house. Make of that what you will.

  36. Meh, dog was listed as aggressive by the city, charged his child. Sorry child trumps dog. And those stupid invisible fences only work for trained dogs, I’ve witnessed aggressive dogs blow right past the “invisible barrier”.

    • yes, except this dog didn’t “blow right past.” it never left the yard. and where exactly did you find out that it “charged his child?” that would alter the circumstances, but i haven’t see that anywhere.

    • I’ve walked by this house once or twice per day for the past 6.5 years (I live a few doors down). Yup, she’d bark and look aggressive. Someone who knew absolutely nothing about dog behavior might be understandably nervous. But based on my interactions with this dog, you’d have to be ridiculously insecure, angry or trigger happy to think your only option was to shoot and kill her. Even before the electric fence if she’d get out of the yard, she’d run up to us barking. Then she’d stop and trot back to her yard. She was loud but not dangerous. I feel for the dog’s owners. I feel bad for the shooters children but it’s going to be a long time before I can walk by their house and not feel resentment to the dog killer.

  37. In response to KaD

    “The guy might have overreacted a little…”
    Nah. It’s totally normal to walk around on a Thursday afternoon in an upscale neighborhood with a high powered semi-automatic handgun with your 3 year old in tow and blow away your new neighbor’s chocolate lab Skhoop in his own yard when he barks at you with not 1, not 2, but somewhere between 5 to 10 rounds fired recklessly to potentially richochet around and hit yourself, your kid, the homeowner, or anyone or anything else that might be in the area.
    Yeah. That’s totally normal.😕😕😁😁

  38. Californians should be contained within California. I realize I’m speaking bluntly but; They ****ing suck. Californication is an epidemic. Seriously what a dumbass, he deserves full persecution of the law. My condolences to the dogs owner.

      • And sorry for assuming you were Alaskan…I have no basis for that. That would probably be an insult to Alaskans. Thank goodness not all people are like you (and I’m making another assumption there).

  39. While being a huge dog lover and owner,I have had several breeds of dogs including labs I can tell you if you think a invisible fence is a viable way of containing a dog you are sadly mistaken .This probably one of the worst options you can choose.I raise Tibetan Mastiffs and Golden retrievers and use the invisible fence to keep the dogs from climbing the fences (6′ foot tall) it’s 5 foot before the 6′ foot fence and they will run through it like it’s not there if they are agitated. while this is a sad event and my heart goes out to the family and friends of these people,take this and learn from it and don’t let it tear a community apart, contain your dog, for his safety and the public’s
    , a charging dog is a frightening experience for a parent and a child

    • all of that might be true, Mark, but the facts of this case appear to be that the invisible fence DID contain the dog. it never left the yard.

      • Both parties agreed on the location of the dead dog, according to the the ADN article, half on the street which means it blew the fence.

      • if you believe the ADN story, JP Norris, which doesn’t agree with the police report which clearly says that “after the dog lay deceased in its own yard, the shooter drove away and did not call police. A witness had provided police with the license plate of the shooter which is how officers were able to track him down.” nor does it agree with what Braille and a neighbor, possibly the aforenamed witness, told me. you might further note the dog half-in-the-street version doesn’t even fit with Mellerstig’s account of events in the ADN story. everyone agrees Mellerstig’s truck was parked with the tires of the passenger side on Braille’s lawn and the ADN report says this: “As Mellerstig prepared to load his 3-year-old son into a car seat on the passenger side shortly before 3 p.m., he said Skhoop ran down the lawn toward them.” that jives with APD report which says this: “According to the shooter, he was in the process of getting into his vehicle with his small child when the lab approached them in an aggressive manner.” if Mellerstig is on the passenger side of the truck and in Braille’s lawn when this happens, the dog doesn’t have a chance to get into the street, invisible fence or not. it would run into the truck. now that might be a reason for Mellerstig to shoot it. he felt backed up against the truck. but it doesn’t put the dog half in the street.

  40. What kind of nitwit uses electric fence? This isn’t even legally considered a fence in most areas because it DOESN’T WORK. So this dog that wasn’t properly contained was acting aggressively with NO barrier. The guy might have over reacted a little but the dog owner was utterly irresponsible too. Failure to control, failure to contain.

    • well, you’re at least a quarter right. there was no barrier. but the evidence is that the dog was controlled and contained. it never left the yard. the jury is out on the “acting aggressively” and more. all we have is the shooter’s version of events on acting aggressively. and there a lot of other facts we don’t know: the age and size of the child on the scene. the position of the dog and the child. the behavior of the child. how the gun came into play? etc. electric fences are not perfect, but once dogs are conditioned to them (dog’s being creatures of conditioning) they work extremely well, arguably better than a signal strand electric fence which is great for bears but some dogs figure out.

  41. Since we may never know the true story of what happened in this horribly sad situation, can’t we all just try to learn what could have been done differently on all sides? I’m not assigning blame anywhere, honestly, but shouldn’t we just try to figure out how to prevent these horrible tragedies? Like many already mentioned–better communication (posting signs about invisible fences, introducing self and family, or contacting animal control if there is a concern), knowledge of dog behavior before approaching their territory, etc. I don’t carry a gun, but my child has been viciously attacked by a dog he knew. My son was too young to read the dog’s signals and without my knowledge, entered the dog’s yard. I cannot blame the dog or owners for the dog’s reaction. It was my fault for not being aware of my child’s actions. My son remembered us talking about “playing dead” during a bear attack and did that until he heard me calling, trying to find him. Now, if I came upon an animal actively attacking my child, or anyone, really, I’m not sure what lengths I would go to stop it. I hope killing would not be needed. Can any of us fully know what we would do?? I must mention that shooting anything in a residential area could lead to more than one horrific accident! I just pray that we can try to forgive. I know, easy for me to say from a distance, but our world has enough HATRED!!! Please, please forgive and let’s try to fix and heal our community!! Think about the children involved, too! Do you want them to think of their father as a murderer?!? I’m not trying to minimize what happened, but when you step back a second, do you really want two families to be destroyed by this? How would you want to be treated if you made a horrible mistake? There is so much hatred in these posts, but not from Shkoop’s family. I’m not saying there is an easy end to this, but let’s focus on preventing any more heartache! Please.

  42. When things like this happen I worry about our gun rights and the second amendment. I believe in the right to carry but that also means you have a huge responsibility and need to consider ALL options BEFORE firing a weapon. In a self defense scenario the gun should be your last resort not your first. Dogs bark to protect their property and owners, it’s what they do, it’s their job. I don’t believe for one second that this was self defense because the dog couldn’t leave the yard. I’ve had invisible fences and trust me the dog is very aware and will not go past their boundary. I consider this a hate crime and the shooter should be prosecuted under full extent of the law.

  43. If “four or five barks” from a Labrador Retriever are “not acceptable” to you, you shouldn’t live in a neighborhood around other people. Seems as though Mr. Mellerstig needs a psych eval to determine whether he has some sort of problem. As it is, there are laws about discharging a weapon in a neighborhood. This guy needs to lose his right to own a firearm since he has already demonstrated an inability to manage himself and his weapon adequately.

  44. I believe there are two sides to every story and I would like to hear his. Much like I would want to hear the side of the man who would beat his wife or child or of a rapist. His realtor says he is a nice guy, people said Ted Bundy was very nice. My fear is that his accolades from UCLA Law will make him very adept at telling his story to stay within the legal parameters of “fear”. So he was either so fearful that he had time to go in the house and grab his gun to come back outside to shoot the dog (where was his child during this?) or he had the gun on him at the time, also scary. Perhaps his realtor can help him find a new home in a neighborhood free of dogs, cats, squirrels, moose, children or anything else that might cause him panic!

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