Momentum is growing for the demand of “Justice for Toby,” a once starving puppy rescued from a burning trash pit in Afghanistan by a U.S. Army Captain that found a good home in Texas merely to be shot and killed by a neighbor this month.
As of the posting of this article, 17, 703 people have signed the Justice for Toby Petition website at thepetitionsite.com asking for the Wilson County, Texas to provide justice and protect the frightened children of the owner of the dog. The Justice For Toby Facebook page has received 8,323 likes and 240 tweets have gone out over Twitter.
According to one source involved in the case who has "been attempting to get the police report (14-02095), Wilson County is refusing to provide anything but a short synopsis of the call in (dog shot by neighbor)."
"Wilson County Sheriff's Office is refusing to release any police report, despite the report OBVIOUSLY having been written," said the source. "At this point, I am almost certain they are rewriting this police report to calculate the reasons why they will not move forward with this case. I was in the room while Rachel Ries (the owner of the dog) provided the video taped statement to the investigator (who also seemed to cut off Rachel a couple times, telling her that the information she is about to say isn't relevant--when it was and had to do with the shooter having been drinking before shooting the gun)."
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“This issue has over 8,000 facebook likes, and thousands of shares,” the source continued. “It also just appeared in the examiner. I understand this might be "old news"--but the news that is current is that Wilson County is refusing to release a police report.”
“And you might want to know why....it does not customarily take this long to get a copy of a reporting officer's report. It has been over a week,” the source said.
The source has “the pathology results of the dog, and it shows pictures, that the dog was shot at over 20 feet away, and it was a high caliber gun. But the Sheriff's Office does not want this information.”
According to witnesses, the neighbor, Michael Coulter, who previously threatened owner Rachel Ries about her “white dog,” was the person who had been drinking on April 12, 2014 when he killed Toby.
Ries, 39, brought Toby home to La Vernia, in Wilson County, a small town about 30 minutes southeast of San Antonio, Texas. Toby was a friendly dog according to all accounts by friends, relatives and neighbors.
On April 12, at about 7:15 p.m. Wilson County Deputy Manual Perez was dispatched to the Ries home after a 911 call reported the neighbor shot her dog.
According to Festa, Deputy Perez indicated they would “not file charges because the man was defending his property.”
“The deputy also stated that he smelled alcohol on the man’s breath when he interviewed him,” claimed Festa. “If you are noticeably under the influence in Texas it is not legal to discharge your fire arm.”
Rachel Ries “kids are afraid to go outside. This is no way to live,” said Festa. “She needs our help.”
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Ries was a MEDEVAC helicopter pilot in the Army on rotation when she met Toby.
“He had already been rescued,” Ries remembers. “Toby was the coolest dog ever. I always made him my priority when I rotated through…everyone else hated rotating through there. I made it a point to go there because of this dog.”
“All the air crews, the navy surgical teams, the contractors, and medical people knew him,” Ries recalled. “The first time i met him he licked my face and we played fetch with an empty water bottle.”
With the help of her mother, Ries was able to get help from Paws Unite People who were able to get Toby “out in a little over a week.”
Ries was redeployed back to Texas in December 2012 and “Toby finally came home to me in January 2013,” she explained. “He's been here ever since with my family.”
Justice for Toby
“In the midst of war, while out on a detail with her unit, the team found an innocent, wounded, and starving puppy in a burn pit/trash pile. He was tossed away to be burned alive,” wrote Meredith Festa, President of Paws Unite People, the national organization that assists abused and neglected animals. “They saved the pup, named him Toby, and nursed him back to health.”
“Unable to keep Toby with them anymore, she and her unit were faced with the unthinkable,” Ries elaborated. The group could “euthanize their best friend, leave him to fend for himself, or bring him home.”
“A nationwide effort was made to get Toby home to his solider,” said Ries. “His story was an inspiration to so many.”
Ries told Festa that it was important in assisting Toby because the pup was “a bright spot and joy in a place far from anything familiar.”
Toby in Afghanistan
Ries had previously complained to local authorities and others about Coulter’s threat. Of particular concern was an encounter her family had with Coulter on Saturday evening, February 22, 2014. Rachel’s oldest son Issac ran into the house frightened because he and a friend were “were going into the back yard from the driveway” when Coulter “shouted at them that the next time he saw the ‘white dog’, he was going to shoot it in the head.”
The only white dog that has ever stayed at the Ries home has lived with Kim Goldberg McCarthy in Philadelphia for over a year.
When Ries approached Coulter later, witnesses said they saw him “walk out from around the side of the house, from the direction of his garage.”
When he was about 15 feet away from Ries he told her "I know why you're here ma'am, now I've tried talking to you before but you wouldn't pay me any attention."
One eyewitness stated to the Examiner that Coulter told Ries that he used to be in counterintelligence and now drives a UPS truck, “so the same people who trained you trained me."
Toby was a good dog.
Confused as to why the irate neighbor was bringing up counterintelligence, Coulter was told “that we were neighbors and that we literally lived right next door to each other, so if he had a problem with anything he could always come ring our door bell and speak to us about it” instead of making “threats to a 15 year old boy.”
According to one source, Coulter told Ries “that she was very unapproachable, because she was always wearing a uniform when she came to and from her house.”
Coulter mentioned Ries was “in the military and was always wearing her uniform,” said the source.
Ries children kept receiving more threats from Coulter, they say. According to Festa, he had “been making derogatory comments about her being in the military and threatening to shoot her ‘Afghan’ dog for weeks. She had complained to local authorities, but they brushed her off.
Deputy Perez told Ries that Coulter said Toby was shot in his yard, according to Ries.
“So that would mean someone opened her gate and let Toby out of the yard,” said Festa. “Then put him back in the yard after he was shot to bleed out. Not one family member touched the gate. The gate was closed when they found Toby.”
“Necropsy initial findings are that Toby was still and relaxed when shot, not moving, and slightly turned away from the shooter,” Festa mentioned. “Toby bled out on her teenage sons lap in their backyard.... their gate was closed. Who closed it? How did Toby get back in their yard and how was the gate closed? It makes no sense.”
La Vernia Justice For Toby
As of the posting of this article, 17, 703 people have signed the Justice for Toby Petition website at thepetitionsite.com asking for the Wilson County, Texas to provide justice and protect the frightened children of the owner of the dog.
The Justice For Toby Facebook page has received 8,323 likes and 240 tweets have gone out over Twitter.
According to Ries, on February 22, 2014 her oldest son ran into the house frightened because he and a friend were “were going into the back yard from the driveway” when Coulter “shouted at them that the next time he saw the ‘white dog’, he was going to shoot it in the head.”
The only white dog that has ever stayed at the Ries home was Bella, who has lived with Kim Goldberg McCarthy in Philadelphia for over a year.