Hunter facing charges after mistakenly shooting dog in Clay County

Local News

A 28-year-old Vermillion man is facing charges after authorities say he mistakenly shot a Wakonda family’s dog while coyote hunting. 

According to the Clay County Sheriff’s office, Dietrich Mehlhaf was hunting outside Wakonda around 8:00 a.m. on Sunday when the incident occurred.

Authorities said Mehlhaf shot at what he thought was a coyote from the right-of-way onto private property. Mehlhaf only discovered that he had shot the family’s dog, a German shepherd, once he went on to the family’s property to retrieve the animal.  

The homeowner discovered the animal after hearing several gunshots. Mehlhaf had left the area prior to the resident’s arrival. The Sheriff’s office said a neighbor witnessed Mehlhaf on the family’s property and spoke with him after he had identified the animal. 

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office charged Mehlhaf with reckless discharge of a firearm and trespassing while hunting. The case was forwarded to the Clay County Attorney’s office on Tuesday afternoon. 

Reckless discharge of a firearm is a class 1 misdemeanor in the state of South Dakota. If convicted, Mehlhaf faces up to a year in county jail and a $2000 fine. 

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