Vt. officer pleads not guilty in dog's death

05/27/09 7:04AM

An Essex police officer accused of animal cruelty in the death of his neighbor's dog has pleaded not guilty.

Thirty-four-year-old Michael Wootton of Waterville was released after his Monday arraignment by a Vermont District Court judge on condition that Wootton avoid contact with the dog's owners or the people who were with the dog at the time of the shooting April 30.

Wootton is accused of shooting the 80-pound animal after it got in a fight with the officer's 20-pound dog.

The maximum penalty for cruelty to animals is one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

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