LAKEFIELD - A Lakefield man and his dog made international headlines after his dog - named Mr. Donald J. Trump - was fatally shot Sunday in an incident the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said, despite information that circulated on social media, was legal and not politically motivated.
The news of the death of Randall Thom’s Alaskan Malamute dog named after the nation’s 45th president began spreading Monday when Thom took to his personal Facebook page to share a photo of him lying on the ground next to the dead dog, which had visible gunshot wounds. The 3-year-old dog, Thom claims, was shot four times by his neighbor and then suffered his death in a cornfield a mile and a half from his property in rural Lakefield. The neighbor’s name has not been publicly identified.
A variety of reactions surfaced across social media - particularly after a GoFundMe page was created to solicit donations. The page,which had garnered more than $3,600 from more than 120 donors by Friday afternoon, made the claim Thom’s neighbor shot the dog because of its name.
In a Thursday interview with The Globe, Thom - a staunch supporter of President Trump and the GOP and a frequent traveler to rallies - said he’s heard negative comments around town about the dog’s name, but doesn’t necessarily believe that was the motivation behind its killing.
As reactions and reported rumors continued to spread, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office eventually got involved. Reportedly based in the interest of public safety and because of threats made to county residents, the sheriff’s office posted a press release late Wednesday afternoon with public information regarding Thom and his dogs’ three-year history with the department.
The office had 14 reports over the years related to the breeder’s dogs running at large on the road, in a county park, onto neighbor’s private property, biting a person who required medical attention and attacking pet dogs, chasing cattle and deer and killing goats, chickens and turkeys. Thom told The Globe that years ago, a couple of his dogs killed four of the neighbor’s goats. Thom claimed to have paid him more than $1,000 and thought they’d come to an agreement to get along.
Thom has been served with two “Potentially Dangerous Dog Notifications” and has pending misdemeanor charges from incidents related to his dogs, the office’s press release states.
The release added that the sheriff’s office conducted and completed an investigation related to the circumstances of the dog’s Feb. 10 death. The investigation, the release said, found that the owner was “legally protecting their livestock on their private property at the time.” According to Minnesota State Statute, a livestock owner or caretaker may kill any dog found “chasing, injuring or worrying” livestock on land owned or controlled by the owner.
Thom said he built a chain link fence on his property last spring, but it's possible that a snow drift helped the dog escape sometime that day while he was in Minneapolis.
Thom said he learned of his dog’s death by calling dispatch based on a “bad feeling.”
When he found his dog in a field around midnight its body was still warm, he said. He claims there were no footprints in the snow that showed anyone checked to see that the dog was actually dead, leading him to believe the dog suffered before eventually succumbing to the gunshot wounds.
“That’s what hurts the most out of all of this,” Thom said about thinking about his dog suffering, adding that a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy called him a “lunatic.”
Jackson County Sheriff Shawn Haken had not replied for comment on Thom’s allegations by late Friday afternoon.