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BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Corgi owners around the nation are rallying around a slain Washington state dog, calling for the harshest penalty for the man charged with killing Molly, a Pembroke Welsh corgi.
A Facebook page called "Justice for Molly the Corgi" has garnered nearly 5,000 followers as of Saturday. The corgi owners are spearheading a letter-writing campaign to the Whatcom County prosecutors' office, imploring them to seek the harshest penalty against David William Latham, 55.
"When writing letters, push for the harshest penalties for this case but BE RESPECTFUL," one of the Facebook posts said.
One family from New Hampshire, whose dog just had a litter of pups, offered to drive across the country to deliver a new corgi puppy to the bereaved Bellingham family of Cary Chunyk and Loyce Andrews, The Bellingham Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1mrpxAJ).
Latham was charged Friday with first-degree animal cruelty and two misdemeanors: brandishing a weapon and second-degree criminal trespassing.
On Sept. 13, Latham was annoyed at a barking dog, so he armed himself with a rifle, walked across the street, aimed over a fence and shot Molly in front of her owners. Molly was not the dog barking, charging documents said.
After shooting Molly in the chest, Chunyk yelled at the shooter, but retreated when Latham raised both of his arms with one hand still holding a rifle.
In the chaos just after the shooting, authorities told the couple they should stay home until the gunman was arrested. So they cradled Molly, and wrapped her in towels, as she bled for a half-hour before dying.
"I wanted to get her into the car and get her on the road," Andrews said. "I've had animals all my life, and it was obvious she was seriously hurt."
The Whatcom County veterinarian who performed a necropsy said Molly likely was in a lot of pain as she died.
Police noted Latham "appeared to be fairly intoxicated and had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath," according to the charges. Officers recovered nine guns from his home.
On Friday, Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett ordered Latham to surrender his beagle. The dog was transferred to the Humane Society. He's allowed to keep two cats he's owned for about eight years. He remains out on bail.
In a statement, Latham's attorney, Adrian Madrone, said his client "is extremely regretful and remorseful for his actions. He is a lifelong animal owner, and is very sorry for the pain he has caused. We simply ask that we be allowed to give his side of the story through the legal process before judgment is passed."
This week, Chunyk and Andrews have been "totally overwhelmed" by letters and messages of sympathy. They hope Molly's death will be a flashpoint for stronger animal-cruelty laws.
"People love their animals like children. So we're going to get this turned into something positive," Andrews said. "The outpouring of support has been phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal."
Information from: The Bellingham Herald, http://www.bellinghamherald.com