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Kenai grand jury doesn’t indict in animal abuse case

The Alaska Judicial Council is interviewing candidates next week to fill a vacancy on the Kenai Superior Court.
Sabine Poux
/
KDLL
The Alaska Judicial Council is interviewing candidates next week to fill a vacancy on the Kenai Superior Court.

A Kenai grand jury declined to indict a Soldotna man on a felony charge of animal cruelty. Alaska State Troopers charged 63-year-old Sam Allen Renney in February after they say he shot a dog in an attempt to euthanize it.

Troopers had charged Renney with one felony count of cruelty to animals. The charge was reduced to attempted animal cruelty, a misdemeanor after the grand jury declined to indict Renney on the felony charge.

And a quick warning, this might be disturbing: According to a charging document filed by Trooper Matthew Wertanen, Renney had taped the husky’s muzzle and shot at it with a handgun in an attempt to euthanize it. A motorist found the dog the next day and reported it to troopers.

Troopers say the dog had a history of aggressive behavior and bit Renney before Renney shot it, from a distance of 30 feet.

The dog underwent emergency surgery and was recovering with rescuers. As previously reported by KDLL, the dog was briefly returned to Renney but then seized and placed in a foster home.

Andy Pevehouse is Renney’s lawyer. He said Monday it’s unclear whether the state will prosecute the misdemeanor charge.

“It’s up to the state to decide, so now — to now decide what they want to do,” Pevehouse said. “So now that the grand jury has ‘no true bill’d’ on the felony, technically that attempted animal cruelty count — that misdemeanor — is still around and the prosecutor has not yet decided what he’s going to do with it.”

The Kenai District Attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Prior to joining KDLL's news team in May 2024, O'Hara spent nearly four years reporting for the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai. Before that, she was a freelance reporter for The New York Times, a statehouse reporter for the Columbia Missourian and a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. You can reach her at aohara@kdll.org