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Man pleads to animal cruelty, terroristic threats related to puppy shootings in rural Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR -- Terence Dale Schwartz, 58, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges of animal cruelty and terroristic threats for an October 2009 incident that included shooting a litter of puppies and threatening a child with a gun at a rural Willmar residence.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, a felony second-degree assault charge will be dismissed. Schwartz entered an Alford plea in the case. Under that plea, the defendant does not admit guilt, but does acknowledge there is likely enough evidence for a jury to return a conviction. Schwartz will be sentenced Aug. 16.

An amended criminal complaint was filed Oct. 4, 2010, and added the terroristic threats charge. A sheriff's detective later interviewed a girl, now 8 years old, who said that Schwartz told her to get away from a kennel and the litter of puppies or he was going to shoot her too. The girl also said she heard shots, dogs yelping and that the man who was watching her and another child told her to walk away from the residence.

The original charges were filed after deputies were called around 6 p.m. Oct. 24 to a home along 45th Street Northwest on a report of someone shooting dogs and waving a gun around.

A man there reported that Schwartz had pointed the gun at him in a dispute over dogs. Schwartz denied pointing the gun at the man and said he got the pistol after the man hit him and also to shoot the dogs, which belonged to a renter. He said he wanted the dogs gone and when they came back to the place, he shot them. A total of nine puppies were involved, with five found dead at the scene and three dying later after they had been taken to a veterinary clinic by their owner,

Officers located the gun, a .22-caliber revolver, inside the residence.

The owner of the litter told the Tribune after the incident that their family wanted to keep the only remaining pit bull/Brittany spaniel cross, a black and white female.

The pup was the only surviving member of a litter of nine pups first dumped into a drainage ditch and then shot by Schwartz, according to Trisha Chapman, who along with her fiancé Mike Schulz and two children, intended to keep the puppy.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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