15 November 2022

Puppy shot by retired farmer, who then refused to return body to its owner

| Albert McKnight
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Queanbeyan Local Court

Noel Francis Heinecke, 69, was sentenced by the Queanbeyan Local Court on Monday. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses animal cruelty.

A retired farmer shot and killed a puppy that was a pet to his neighbour’s children, then refused to return the dog’s body so its owners could bury it.

Noel Francis Heinecke spotted the 12-month-old border collie appearing to chase sheep and lambs at his small farm in Murrumbateman on the morning of 25 June, 2022, documents tendered to the Queanbeyan Local Court say.

He caught the young pup, led it away on a piece of cord and secured it in a pen. He went into his house to get a .22-calibre rifle, then returned and shot it once in the head. Afterwards, he put the dog’s body into a chaff bag and hid it under a pile of leaves.

The puppy had been one of his neighbours’ children’s pet. When the neighbour arrived at Heinecke’s home not long after the shooting, he was told what happened, so he asked for the dog’s body back. But Heinecke refused.

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When police arrived to talk to him, he said he believed he was within his rights to kill the puppy because it was a threat to his sheep. He also told them this was an ongoing issue and seeing the dog on his property made him angry.

However, police told him that as the collie had been secured in a pen, it was no longer a threat.

Police also spoke to the neighbour, who said the collie had still been a puppy so would not have hurt sheep. He said all he wanted was for the body to be returned so they could bury it.

Heinecke was still reluctant to do this when police returned to him, saying he thought the neighbour would photograph the dog’s body and use it against him if he gave it over, but eventually he relented.

Police took the dog’s body back to its home in a bag, warning the neighbour not to look inside as it was bloody.

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They returned to talk with Heinecke a few days later and he again admitted shooting the dog while it was in a pen, then he was later charged.

Now living in Wamboin, 69-year-old Heinecke pleaded guilty to charges of committing an act of cruelty on an animal and not delivering a seized animal to its owner, council or approved premises.

He was convicted, fined $200 and sentenced to a 12-month community corrections order by the Queanbeyan Local Court on Monday (14 November).

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