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A 55-year-old man was charged Friday with fatally shooting a boy's therapy dog just outside the family's home in rural Carver County last week.

Patrick Darryl Will was charged with felony animal torture in connection with the killing of Gus, a red heeler mix breed, on June 15 just south of Norwood Young America.

Will was arrested Thursday, appeared in court Friday and has since posted bail ahead of another court appearance on July 19. A message was left Friday afternoon with Will seeking his reaction to the allegations.

"I just feel at peace and very lucky that we don't have to be in fear at this moment," Gus' owner, Arielle Brandenburg, told the Star Tribune after hearing about Will being charged.

Brandenburg said 8-year-old Gus was a therapy dog for the older of her two sons, 11-year-old Gavin, whose father, Jeremy Brandenburg, died by suicide 1½ years ago related to his battle with PTSD tied to his service in the Middle East with the Army Reserve.

"Gus blankets him whenever he has panic attacks for his anxiety," Gavin's mother said.

According to the criminal complaint and related court documents:

Doorbell camera video from the Brandenburg home showed that Gus had gone down her driveway with Gavin at 11:48 a.m. and returned home bleeding 20 minutes later.

Brandenburg took Gus to a veterinary hospital in Golden Valley, where a .22-caliber bullet was recovered from his body. He was shot at least twice with a rifle and had to be put down.

A sheriff's detective spoke to Will, who at first contended that he was not at home around that time.

Will's mother told the same detective five days later that she said to her son that "if ... a dog comes out here, get rid of it," the complaint quoted her as saying. She said she believed Gus was a stray.

The detective then spoke again with Will, and before he could ask any questions, Will said, "It was on my damn yard. I shot the damn thing. ... I've had so many dogs that been running out there, everybody drops ... off in town, that dog's been on the yard 10, 12 times, and I think my mother had made an attempt to go up there and tell them people. Nobody ever comes to the door."

Will added that he at first thought Gus was a coyote but realized it was a dog. He said he shot at Gus but was trying to aim over the dog's head. Gus ran into the brush, and Will shot in that direction.

Given the distance between her home and Will's — an 8-minute walk — Brandenburg doubts Gus could have made it to Will's property and returned home after being shot at least twice in the 20 minutes he was gone.

In any event, she said she's grateful that Gavin "didn't see anything until he saw his dog running up the drive bleeding."

Gavin won't have to wait long for a successor to Gus, Brandenburg said.

"We're getting a black Lab puppy from a local breeder," she said. "A veterans group will train him to be a therapy dog."