Treatment likely for Tacoma man who shot dog

Staff writerOctober 16, 2013 

A Tacoma man who shot his dog to punish it for disobeying him most likely will not be sent to jail for the crime.

William Walston, 38, pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree animal cruelty, a felony, but Pierce County prosecutors say they won’t ask for jail time, provided Walston gets treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We probably could have taken a hard line and put him in jail,” deputy prosecutor Patrick Hammond said, “But what good would that do? He needs to be in a treatment program with some sort of supervision.”

Superior Court Judge Stan Rumbaugh agreed to send Walston home with an electronic monitoring device and postpone sentencing until Nov. 20, when he’s had a chance to get back into a PTSD treatment program.

Walston shot his 5-year-old boxer, Zeus, in the right hip on Sept. 3 outside his family’s South Tacoma apartment. He told police he fired his pistol at the dog because he was tired of it running away and not listening to him. Walston said he was drunk at the time.

The dog survived the shooting and is recovering from the wound, Hammond said. He said Walston’s wife removed Zeus from the apartment.

Walston is a 10-year Army veteran, according to court records. He has no combat experience, Hammond said, but was hurt in a parachute jump.

Walston also pleaded guilty to two gross misdemeanors: attempting to unlawfully manufacture explosives and discharging a firearm in the city limits.

The charges came after police arrested Walston and found a cache of weapons in the walk-in closet of his bedroom. It included supplies needed to make explosive devices, a manual titled “Unconventional Warfare Devices and Techniques,” ammunition, body armor and nine guns.

Hammond said that although the explosive-making material was stored in a cardboard box labeled “IED,” there was an innocent explanation. The material included an ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder called Tannerite, commonly used by marksmen to make exploding targets. It also included materials commonly used by hunters who make their own ammunition.

Prosecutors agreed to reduce the explosives count from a felony to a gross misdemeanor.

Walston entered the courtroom leaning on a cane and several times winced in apparent pain during the hearing. He said he lost his job at Madigan Army Medical Center because his physical injuries made it impossible for him to do the work.

“I was depressed. I was down on myself,” Walston said. “All the pain and everything. Going from being a provider to being nothing. Things started snowballing. I started drinking again.”

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693

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