Shooter of Dog who ‘Played Too Rough’ at Houston Park Charged with Animal Cruelty

Diesel dog shot in Houston dog park

On a Sunday afternoon in late January, Joseph Potts thought Diesel, a 2-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was playing too roughly with his own dog at the Bay Area Dog Park in Houston.

So Potts kicked Diesel, knocking him down. He pulled out a Glock 9mm pistol and shot Diesel three times at close range in the back and leg.

Diesel was rushed to a local emergency animal hospital, where he had to be euthanized a few hours later due to the extent of his injuries.

“I just can’t believe somebody would do that when the dog wasn’t even being aggressive,” Melanie Merritt, who saw the shooting, told KHOU at the time.

Another eyewitness told KPRC-TV the dogs appeared to have been playfully tussling at the Bay Area Dog Park. “His dog was not in danger,” he said. “I witnessed everything. No one was in danger.”

When questioned by Harris County sheriff’s deputies, Potts — who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun — told them he did it in self defense when the “Pit Bull” tried to attack his dog. He was allowed to go free while the Harris County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case.

protest walk for diesel houston dog park

As outrage grew over the incident, a Support for Diesel page was created on Facebook, and dozens of pet parents attended a protest walk at the Bay Area Dog Park.

“This case has gotten more notoriety than many of our homicides,” Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Gilliland told the Houston Chronicle.

Nearly two months later, justice has finally been served. Potts was arrested Monday and charged with one count of felony cruelty to a non-livestock animal. If found guilty, he faces two to 10 years in prison — and will likely lose that license to carry a gun.

“Animal abuse is a serious offense that will not be tolerated,” Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a press release. “We take all allegations of cruelty to animals very seriously and pursue charges whenever appropriate.”

diesel and randy livingston houston

Randall Livingston, Diesel’s dog dad, told KPRC-TV, “We were pretty excited to hear that news. That was obviously the outcome we were looking for.”

Livingston had Diesel since he was a puppy. “He was an absolutely amazing, beautiful dog,” he told the Houston Press in January. “When anybody came in contact with him — when you were walking down the street, and they were driving — they would roll down the windows and just comment on him: how beautiful he is, how sweet he is. Man, it’s a bad deal. It really is.”

Livingston’s mother took Diesel to the Bay Area Dog Park on Jan. 25. She told police that when she saw Potts kicking Diesel, she yelled at him to grab his collar. Instead, Potts pulled out his Glock.

After Potts was arrested yesterday, he was released on a $5,000 bond.

“Hopefully he would have some form of better judgment or just stay the hell out of the dog park,” Livingston told KPRC-TV.

Photos via Facebook

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!