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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 10, 2010

Tubbs puts dogs’ deaths behind her,
Bushnell pleads guilty to stealing and injuring two dogs

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Robert Bushnell pleaded guilty on Tuesday night to killing Amy Tubbs’s two dogs last September. Afterwards, Tubbs talked with Bushnell, her neighbor, outside of the Berne Town Court for the first time since the incident.

“I’ve moved on with my life,” Tubbs told Bushnell, “and I want you to be able to move on with yours.”

Bushnell, 51, has been charged with two counts of overdriving, torturing, and injuring animals — a misdemeanor — and two counts of dog stealing, also a misdemeanor.

When asked in September if Bushnell would be charged with felonies under Buster’s Law, Undersheriff Craig Apple of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department said, “This was no sadistic killing…There’s no way a felony would have stood up in court.”

The maximum sentence for these charges is a year in Albany County’s jail, but Berne Judge Albert Raymond III said Tuesday that each year for each charge would likely be served all at once, not over the course of four consecutive years. Bushnell may also have to pay restitution to Tubbs for the cost of the dogs; Tubbs said that each dog had cost her $1,000.

“I don’t necessarily even want the money,” Tubbs told The Enterprise Tuesday. “At this point, if he’d make a donation to an animal shelter, that’d be fine.”

Bushnell pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges Tuesday, admitting that last fall, he shot and killed Tubbs’s two dogs: Rocky, an Alaskan malamute; and Mocha, a chocolate Labrador retriever.

On Saturday, Sept. 12 of last year, Tubbs, a house principal at Farnsworth Middle School, let her two dogs out of her home as she had every morning. They usually stayed out for 10 to 20 minutes, she said.

But Rocky and Mocha never came back. Tubbs looked high and low to find her dogs, but to no avail.

When their bodies were discovered shortly after about three miles from the Tubbses’ home, an anonymous donor offered $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who killed the dogs. A neighbor soon offered another $1,000.

Evidence from the necropsies of the dogs suggested that they had been shot at close range with buckshot. Tubbs said then that she knew two of her neighbors were not pleased with her dogs. Bushnell was one of those neighbors. Tubbs also said that her dog once brought home a dead chicken from a neighbor’s property.

Bushnell told Judge Raymond on Tuesday that, on that morning in September, he went outside to feed his animals when he heard noise coming from his chicken coop.

Upon investigating, he found that Tubbs’s dogs had made their way onto his property, as they had reportedly done in the past, and were breaking into the coop.

“I went into the house, and got my gun,” Bushnell told the court on Tuesday. “I came out and, by that point, the one dog was in the chicken coop, and the other one was trying to get in.”

One dog had already killed one of his chickens by the time he was able to lure them away. Bushnell said he opened the door to his truck to guard himself and, when one of the dogs approached him, he stepped out of the way, and the dogs jumped into the truck.

“So I got in the truck and drove away, and shot them,” Bushnell said, quietly mumbling by the end of the story.

Tubbs concluded on Tuesday, “I just want this to be over. Enough is enough. I don’t want this guy to go to jail.”

But, depending on the outcome of his sentencing at the Berne court on Aug. 10, Bushnell may still serve jail time.

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