Powell, WY


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Service dog/retired military K-9 killed in weekend incident

In this file photo, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bessler of Powell is pictured in Iraq with Mike, the dog he adopted after the pair served together in the U.S. Army. The dog was killed on Saturday by a bicyclist who said he was attacked, but Bessler is disputing that claim. In this file photo, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bessler of Powell is pictured in Iraq with Mike, the dog he adopted after the pair served together in the U.S. Army. The dog was killed on Saturday by a bicyclist who said he was attacked, but Bessler is disputing that claim. Courtesy photo

Bicyclist says he was attacked, dog’s owner disputes account

retired military dog was shot and killed outside of Powell on Saturday by a bicyclist who says the dog attacked him. The dog, named Mike, also was a service dog for Army veteran Matthew Bessler of Powell, who raised the 10-year-old Belgian Malinois since he was a puppy. Bessler, who was out of town at the time, disputes the bicyclist’s account.

“As a dog and a companion, he was probably one of the most loyal animals to anyone he came across,” Bessler said of Mike in a Wednesday interview. “If he knew you and you were in my house, he was by your side, leaning up against you.”

Bessler hopes Mike can have a burial with military honors.

“Mike was a retired major in the Army that saved a number of lives because of his work in bomb detection and everything he had done,” Bessler said.

Mike served alongside Bessler in Iraq in the U.S. Army, and both came home with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mike then became a service dog for Bessler. That transition — from a combat dog to a service dog — made the canine especially unique and led to a profile in the Washington Post in July.

“As far as we know, this is the first and only case that they have,” Bessler told the Tribune in July.

An online fundraising campaign to help pay for Mike’s funeral costs was launched on Tuesday by Jess Campbell.

“We are a community coming together to mourn the loss of a brave military service dog, who deserves the honor to be laid to rest with a military funeral and burial,” the page reads. “Major Mike is a former military combat dog that had served two tours of duty in Iraq. Please help us fund a funeral that will do this military war veteran the respect he deserves.”

Extra donations will go toward a program that honors and supports war veterans, Campbell said.

For more information about the campaign, visit

The 59-year-old Powell man who shot Mike has not been cited for any wrongdoing.

“Essentially, if you feel your life is in danger or threatened by an animal, you can act against it,” Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said Wednesday. Steward said that, according to the man’s statements and his actions, he felt threatened.

The man was not injured in the incident.

According to the account the bicyclist gave to the Sheriff’s Office, he was turning north onto Road 5 from Lane 9 when he was “attacked” by a “German shepherd-looking dog.”

The Powell man got off of his bike and began using it as a shield, circling back and forth and keeping the bike between him and the dog, he told the Sheriff’s Office. Eventually, he was able to grab a revolver from his bicycle-mounted holster, and he shot the dog. The dog ran away and the man called 911, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“(The man) said he was genuinely in fear of his life and well-being, and the dog was ‘definitely in full attack mode and not backing down at all,’” Park County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lance Mathess summarized of the report later compiled by a deputy.

When he shot the animal, it was about 5-10 feet away, the man said. He had not thought the single round of bird shot had killed the dog, Mathess said of the man’s account.

No other people witnessed the incident, though a neighbor heard the shot and came outside to see the dog limping away.

Bessler had been hunting in the Big Horn Mountains at the time. The friend who was caring for Mike told the Sheriff’s Office they had no idea how the dog had escaped from Bessler’s residence, Mathess said.

Bessler questions many parts of the bicyclist’s account.

“He has his story,” Bessler said. “I know my dog. I have my story.”

The man told the Sheriff’s Office, and the dog’s wounds show, that he shot the dog in the rear.

“In my mind, it’s inconsistent with a dog that’s attacking somebody,” Bessler said, saying that two pellet marks went directly toward Mike’s heart.

Bessler described Mike as a nice dog who was gentle with children, enjoyed being petted and always wanted to play ball.

“He would never attack someone,” he said. “The only time he ever protected property was when somebody stepped on to my property and looked into the back of my truck.”

Bessler added that Mike effectively had no teeth from years of chewing rocks out of anxiety.

Bessler said Mike “never gets out on the road” and would only briefly run alongside people passing by.

“I believe the gentleman just shot the dog on my property,” Bessler said, adding, “I don’t buy his story.”

The man said the encounter took place in the road, and Steward said that’s consistent with what the neighbor told the deputy.

“She comes out, and laying in the intersection was this guy’s bike and him standing there,” Steward said.

The man initially reported he’d been attacked by a “pack of dogs,” but he later admitted that — while several other dogs came near him — only Mike threatened him, Mathess said.

Bessler said the three other dogs with Mike when the incident occurred were smaller than Mike, including a puppy, and that none of them are aggressive.

“If it went down the way the guy said it did, then so be it,” Bessler said. “But I’m disgusted with the fact that the guy hasn’t even shown his face to say, ‘I’m sorry this happened.’”

Steward said the Sheriff’s Office plans to follow up on a few inconsistencies, such as whether bird or buck shot was used, but he said “everything’s pretty consistent with what the victim’s telling us.”

Bessler said his next step will be having an autopsy performed and “memorializing, remembering Mike and taking care of services.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m still so flabbergasted over the whole thing of why a person would be carrying the types of things he (the bicyclist) was carrying.”

Steward doesn’t think it’s that unusual for someone to be carrying a weapon.

“A lot of people, when they walk or ride bikes around here, they’ve got pepper spray, a gun or a stick,” he said. “And that’s because dogs come out and chase bikes (and) people.”

The sheriff called it “tragic all the way around.”


  • posted by Gary Debusey

    January 03, 2016 10:57 am

    Discharged a firearm in a neighborhood setting, attacked by a pack of dogs, full attack mode, shot in the rear, no injury to the biker ? Can we at least get a name of this fearless hero ? A lot of the roadies I have come across have a serious chip on their shoulder when riding. I have been in the same situation several times and using my bike and a cellphone was the only force needed. Where are all the PETA protest and rioting for animal mistreatment ? Must be a double standard for Military dogs....

  • posted by Ron Ettinger

    December 10, 2015 10:36 pm

    I picked up on this story earlier this evening on-line and found it so compelling in all of its many aspects, I couldn't get enough on Google. Amazing Sgt Matt, your life and this wonderful story of your best bud Mike. Most of us Americans go to school, get a job, marry and life is good. Many of us can't begin to relate to your military career and what you sacrificed in the past 20 years waking every day to protect all of us and our American values. Know that you gave Mike a great loving and long life. I stumbled onto your story and wish every freedom loving person reads your story as well and tears up reading each and every sentence as I have. You and Mike are a profound inspiration to all. My concern now is
    how are you doing Sgt. Matt. The GREAT and lasting memories of Mike, your amazing Friend, will be with you forever - no one can ever take them away. Your a very young man and I know all those that have read about Mike and Matt pray for you. I will continue to check with the Powell, WY news hoping to read good things about you Sgt. Matt. Be Well my friend - please take care !!!

  • posted by Sharon

    December 08, 2015 1:14 pm

    Matthew, I have an older dog who would be wonderful for you to have, he has helped my son when he came back, My son had to move to Florida and couldn't take Cash. If you are up to having another dog Cash would be very good for you as you would be for him. As I said he is older and a very good dog. He needs a caring male companion to be with as well. You would be great for each other. If you are interested please call me. 250-4031

  • posted by Kiya

    October 27, 2015 10:20 am

    If Mike was really attacking the bicyclist then he wouldn't have shot it in the behind, he would have shot it near the front of the dogs body. Mike was obviously not attacking him, he was going away from him. also there were no scratch marks on the bicyclist or his bike. The bicyclists' story is a bunch of BS. Mike would've known better. I cant even explain how upsetting this is. My heart goes out to Bessler and his family.

  • posted by Sam Lightner

    October 24, 2015 2:57 pm

    Sheriff Steward clearly is not a cyclist if he thinks it's normal for someone on a bike to carry a gun. I'm a cyclist and a hunter and gun owner... cyclists don't do that unless they are hunting from their bike. To me it sounds like this this guy intended to kill a dog when he left the house with a gun on his bike, and the in turn sheriff is covering for a friend of his. Look shooter, you shot the dog and clearly left your house with that as a possibility. Why not own up to instead of hide behind the sheriffs office? Coward.

  • posted by Timothy Campbell

    October 22, 2015 2:54 pm

    Major Mike represents all veterans. Above all else, he saved lives. Mike was prescribed prosac. Case studies prove that this drug has a mellowing effect on canines with PTSD. The shooter appears paranoid...enough so that a weapon was bike-carried. There are questions still demanding answers, e.g., was the shooter on drugs, does he have mental health issues, is he inherently afraid of canines? Major Mike deserves a military burial with a granite marker /monument somewhere in Powell. It is not too late to issue a citation concerning the incident. County Commissioners should have the incident fully investigated. Mike was not an ordinary canine...far from it. Two tours in a war zone attest to it. Many veterans are watching Powell right now. Hopefully, Major Mike will receive his justice.

  • posted by Dana Sharitz

    October 22, 2015 11:27 am

    so sorry for your loss Matt. I am sure Major Mike is still protecting your comrades on the other side. Rest in peace Major Mike thank you for your and Matts service

  • posted by BG Davis

    October 22, 2015 9:50 am

    There is something not right about all the people who weren't there, who are 100% sure that they know what happened. And although my heart goes out to the dog's owner, it seems like every owner whose dog attacks someone says "he wouldn't do that."
    As both a dog owner and a bike rider:
    1. Your dog's whereabouts is your responsibility. If you really care about your dog you don't let him run loose around a highway.
    2. I've been harassed and attacked by both people and dogs often enough that I also carry a pistol when I'm out riding in the country. That's just being realistic. (And no, the cyclist was not carrying a shotgun, as some ignorant people have posted. You can get (or load) birdshot for almost any weapon.)

  • posted by Karen Klinck

    October 21, 2015 9:31 am

    Randy: Somehow I doubt it. You're making an assumption that the dog was actually in the road to begin with, and the cyclist's stories contradict each other. I think *you* would assess the situation and take appropriate action, not just haul out a gun and commence shooting. That man showed absolutely no evidence to back up his story, no damage to anything, not even a scratch on his bike, and all anyone heard was the shot--never a dog barking. The bird shot sounds more like someone who likes to hurt animals than self defense.

  • posted by Lisa

    October 20, 2015 9:11 pm

    I have been charged by an aggressive dog fitting this description in the same area. The owner let it out of his house and it immediately came after me. The owner only stood and yelled at his dog from his front yard. The dog did not respond to the owner right away and chased after me. The owner never bothered to come after the dog. From what I could tell the man was middle aged and fit enough to run after his dog. I am not the quickest bike rider and with the dog trying to bite my leg I was afraid I was going to wreck my bike. However I was lucky and the dog could not get hold of my leg. When a dog comes after you on a bike it is from the side. It would be a nature reaction to get your leg away from the dog, which means getting off the bike. I now carry a weapon while riding my bike.
    I am sorry for the loss of a valuable service dog. However that being said no matter how well a dog is trained or pleasant... you can never know when the dog feels someone is too close to their domain. Futher more both military and police dogs no matter what they are trained for should be kept restrained a all times. These dogs have been trained and lived their life dealing with stressful and violent events. A dog will take its years of service and training into a civilian life style. These dogs are not only trained to perform special services they also form extremely close bonds to the handler and will defend them and their territory.
    But the real problem that needs to be addressed here is the fact there is a real problem with unrestrained dogs in the powell area. Where is the dog catcher? Almost every day I see unrestrained dogs roaming powell. Some of them are nice and some are not. I realize sometimes dogs just manage to do the Houdini escape when we are not looking. But I can list several houses in powell who not bother to restrain their dog. I see people all time taking their dogs through the parks unleashed. Again I ask where is dog catcher?

  • posted by Veritysnac

    October 20, 2015 7:19 pm

    Perhaps the dog smelt a bomb. A search of the shooters property may be in order.

  • posted by Travis Hopkinson

    October 20, 2015 7:19 am

    All i have ever wanted to know on this story, Is the bicyclist a Native of the area or a transplant from somewhere else.

  • posted by PR Jacobson

    October 20, 2015 4:08 am

    I quite frankly have issues with the Sheriff's department! IT appears to me that there thoughts were "Hell it's just a damn dog" The "tail" told by this " bicycle gun toting dog killer" is as full of holes as in a piece of Swiss cheese! The Sheriff's department most certainly dropped the ball and the county commissioners should demand an internal investigation of the department. This most certainly put Powell and Wyoming in the news and NOT in a positive manner.

  • posted by Dianne Jacobsen

    October 20, 2015 12:58 am

    I Am So Sorry For Your Loss. I Love Dogs Very Much And This Whole Story Stinks. I Highly Doubt That This Dog Attacked The Bicyclist, I Think The Dog Barked At Him And He Shot Him. Again I'm SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS !!!

  • posted by Chance

    October 19, 2015 11:02 am

    two issues: if you value your pet put him/her in a fenced enclosure, owners too often let their animals to roam while they are gone during the day- dogs do get hit by cars. Pet ownership has/is a responsibility.
    Secondly, what bicyclist rides with a shot gun? It is one thing when you are mountain biking in the Big Horn or Absaroka back country, but on a county road? By the way discharging a fire arm near homes or on a road may is illegal in some jurisdictions. Sounds like some one that has a little man complex. Non-lethal seems a far more safer way to go for all. Counseling

  • posted by Karen Klinck

    October 19, 2015 7:33 am

    I happen to agree that the cyclist is in the wrong. This can be cleared up, very simply, by a forensics investigation. I want to see the marks on the bike the cyclist theoretically 'defended himself with'. Or, perhaps, torn clothing? I'm sorry, but there are holes in the cyclist's story one could drive a Mac truck through! I hope he didn't do it on purpose, but he seems to have chosen the most painful way to kill an animal larger than a bird.

  • posted by corby brown

    October 19, 2015 6:57 am

    This story is going world wide. This is unacceptable and the cyclist needs to be charged with a crime.

  • posted by JANET WELCH

    October 19, 2015 1:21 am


  • posted by melissa lastoria

    October 18, 2015 11:09 pm

    Matt, i am so sorry for your loss of Mike. you both served our country and some of the comments i feel are inappropiate. if he was shot from behind, he was retreating. he didnt pose a threat at that time. him, as well as you, are trained NOT to attack unless given the command. he SHOULD be buried military. people dont realize how many LIVES these dogs, these unsung hero's, save. or how well they are trained. my heart hurts for you and i pray you can find some peace.

  • posted by Deb Friddle

    October 18, 2015 9:46 pm

    First of all..thank you for your service and Mike's service. I feel for you, losing such a friend and fellow soldier. I find it hard to believe he attacked someone without provocation. How do you shoot a dog in the ass if he is attacking you? I hope they get to the bottom of this because it sounds to me like the guy is lying through his teeth.

  • posted by Dianne Adams

    October 18, 2015 7:20 pm

    Since the dog was shot IN THE REAR, I'd say the cyclists story is BULL! Other dogs were there, possibly because a bicycle went by, but this dog was obviously retreating - Lay some charges here - they are warrented!!

  • posted by Paul S

    October 18, 2015 5:25 pm

    For the critics of this vet and his vet dog you have already forgotten you owe both of them big time. I have been charged by large loose dogs many times on walks and non-lethal means always work. Mace, a load compressed air horn, a stick, or even yelling at the dog in a stern and angry way. Lethal is not needed.

  • posted by Rubino Cory

    October 18, 2015 4:24 pm

    Two words: pepper spray. Works every time. Who goes cycling with a gun? It's sick.

  • posted by Ulli (99er-haya)

    October 18, 2015 4:09 pm

    You both made a honorable job; its a pity to loose a friend and partner;
    be proud to got a friend like Mike / keep him in mind;
    thinking of you ... !!!

  • posted by crystal

    October 18, 2015 3:23 pm

    umm you are on a bicycle and an adult unless the dog actually came running full tilt and jumped on the bicyclist why did he stop? and not just keep going? So to me the dog wasnt charging at him. Did not attack? no bites. why the hell would you hang around to call 911 when your in danger go around the block or something, I carry and if it was me I would have fired a warning shot if the dog was close, growling and barring teeth. or I would have kept my ass on my bike and would peddle like crazy then call and report it..

  • posted by Mark Dickehage

    October 18, 2015 3:09 pm

    I think the bicyclist over reacted here. If a dog ran up to me or alongside me I might speed up but wouldn't shoot it. Did it knock him off of the bike? Did it jump at him or bite him? Definitely an overreaction by the cyclist. If a kid ran out chasing a ball would he get shot by this bicyclist also? Sounds as if this cyclist shouldn't even have a gun! There should be some consequences for him. I am sorry for the dog and the owner.

  • posted by russell gammon

    October 18, 2015 10:28 am

    This isn't the Wild West. The fact that the wounds are in the rear is evidence that the dog was moving away from the shooter, not moving aggressively toward him. I doubt that the bicyclist is telling the truth. Just another immature gun owner. I'm an avid bike rider who would never think of carrying the extra weight of a gun while riding.

  • posted by Frank

    October 18, 2015 9:44 am

    This isn't a very good story to support gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment. Nothing like a bike riding, gun toting guy in a backwoods environment shooting a hero dog in the butt and killing the dog to get the anti-gun millions out there, incensed. This will get some interesting reactions in the urban areas in America.

  • posted by Ross

    October 18, 2015 9:27 am

    My dad once scared off an overly aggressive Grizzly Bear who was making his way into our camp with a snub nose 38. No need to shoot the animal, it's really not difficult to scare away a dog with a gun - without blowing a hole in him. Disgusting and cowardly behavior in my opinion.

  • posted by Eilene Drescher

    October 18, 2015 9:21 am

    Soldiers are trained to serve and protect "territory"! What did this cyclist do in an aggressive manner that Mike construed as "threatening" or was it merely an ill-timed "backfire" that set Mike's PTSD off! Regardless we have a hero who died "in the line of duty"! Mike deserves to be laid to rest with full military honors including an American Flag draped coffin and a 21 gun salute! If the biker had died instead of the dog it would have been treated in a one time "flash in the pan" claim to fame footnote in the obituary section and promptly edged out as "newsworthy" thereafter!

  • posted by Zippy

    October 18, 2015 8:24 am

    The cyclist "was circling back and forth"? Sounds like intent to shoot the dog regardless of its behavior.

  • posted by Samantha

    October 18, 2015 8:23 am

    5 or 10 feet away??? Then how was he attacking you?

    The law needs to be changed. The lives of our pets are wore than someone being able to say "I feel threatened" and get away with it.

    There are many neighborhoods full of pets and kids. Someone on a bicycle may attract attention from a dog because it's a moving object and a stranger. You just KEEP GOING. Sorry it's an annoyance to you and you want to cycle all around the world and not be approached, but that's the reality. You don't own the neighborhoods. Carry pepper spray or something, you have NO RIGHT to shoot pets who approach you or bark or try to chase you for a few seconds. Coward.

  • posted by Sheila Goslin

    October 18, 2015 12:42 am

    The cyclist should have carried pepper spray--not a gun. The dog may have come out and was harassing him but why was it shot in the rear?? If it was attacking him wouldn't he have shot it in the face or chest?? I think he went overboard. If Mike was shot in the hind quarters he was probably headed home. To sad the cyclist overreacted! #!

  • posted by movealong

    October 17, 2015 11:19 pm

    Let's all calm down please. A rule, or rules, were broken that allowed a beloved pet to be killed by someone who felt threatened on a bike. Most comments appear to be the usual power play of getting their way (revenge) despite the broken rules designed to protect both cyclist and pet. Let's man up and see the mistakes, try not to repeat them, and both should agree that a tragedy occurred, apologize for their unfortunate roll and move on.

  • posted by Tara

    October 17, 2015 10:02 pm

    Unbelievable. I live in Maryland. Nobody gets to carry a handgun. Not nobody. If this had happened the man would've been arrested for carrying. Or he never would've had the Gun n the first place either way is better. Horrible the cops believe the dog was shot in the butt in self defense.

  • posted by Pottsc

    October 17, 2015 7:57 pm

    People on bikes with guns look forward to shooting anything that interferes with there rights to riding bikes.

  • posted by lela trope

    October 17, 2015 7:49 pm

    I believe the man on the bicycle is not telling the whole story. He may have been concerned but if he would have just ridden away, perhaps after firing a shot in the air or into the ground this would not have happened. This man does not have the wit or temperament to carry a gun. He most likely over reacted and was prone to over reacting and that is why he was carrying a gun and shot to kill or severely wound. He acted out of fear and ignorance. This is a very sad story and the man on the bicycle should have to pay restitution and help supply a new service dog along with funeral costs.

  • posted by Chuck

    October 17, 2015 7:47 pm

    Matt, thank you for your service and I am sorry for your loss and worse yet Reading Puco]s remarks. A true American?

  • posted by Jim

    October 17, 2015 7:00 pm

    I am sure that most of you that are defending the coward that shot the dog have never put yourself in harms way to defend your country. You depend on others to do it for you. Mike and Mr. Bessler did their part to protect your way of life.

  • posted by Bob

    October 17, 2015 5:45 pm

    Overall, from what we know, sounds like a bunch of B.S.. For example he claims he was 'brutally attacked' but there was no barking and not even a minor scratch to show for it? This would be akin to completely randomly shooting an unarmed person and trying to say they were threatening you. You wouldn't just walk away from that without a major investigation... and if the guy gets away with his, you're sending him a message that he can get away with more.

  • posted by frank

    October 17, 2015 5:43 pm

    The Sheriff is too quick to take the side of the bicyclist. The biker's credibility is already at issue when he lied about a "pack of dogs." Come on Sheriff, investigate and make sure charges are brought if warranted. Don't just believe this guy's story.

  • posted by Rose

    October 17, 2015 5:16 pm

    Did the police or sheriff deputies ever check the bike for evidence from Mike? Any teeth or saliva on the bike at the time of the incident? Bite marks would still remain. If he has enough teeth to shave paint and carve the bike. But knowing MWDs, they would attack the bike and human if in attack mode. These dogs don't give up and wouldn't get shot in the rear. From behind, bullet going from rear end to heart. Knowing male and MWDs, they don't give up. So if in attack mode, this guy would have injuries.

  • posted by Lila

    October 17, 2015 4:42 pm

    paco - You are a jerk, proved by your post.

    People know their dogs and this was a highly trained dog. Do they always act as expected in every situation? No, but you could give the guy some slack for trusting his dog over the stranger that shot him.

    Fact: The shooter lied and told some story about a 'pack' of dogs before changing his story.
    Fact: Mike was shot in the rear - pretty strange for a dog actively attacking.

    Mike's owner deserves an apology, if nothing else.

  • posted by Vince

    October 17, 2015 4:27 pm

    I would assume the witness who heard shots would have also heard alot of barking ???? I suspect like most dogs, he was investigating and not attacking! sounds like the story police routinely tell!!!

  • posted by KDJ

    October 17, 2015 4:24 pm

    The dog was suffering from PTSD and was on medication for it. Quite understandable if Bessler was away, and didn't take the dog along, the dog was feelling a little stressed. Humans with PTSD can become "suddenly dangerous" too.

  • posted by Carla Katzenwein

    October 17, 2015 3:46 pm

    I am not convinced the threat was real either but the dog sitter is at fault. Mike got loose on the sitter's watch so Mike's death is on him.

  • posted by Klein

    October 17, 2015 3:04 pm

    A guy on a bike can't outrun a dog?

  • posted by Meg

    October 17, 2015 2:56 pm

    hum..shot in the rear and the guy on the bike has no injury's. I'm not buying the bicyclists story at all as these dogs are smarter than a lot of people i.e. the bicyclist. German Shepards can by their looks seem threatening and I'd bet the guy overreacted. So, so sad and my heart goes to the dog owner.

  • posted by Wink

    October 17, 2015 1:49 pm

    This article makes no sense. The dog is a "retired major". The veteran admits that he wasn't there, but says the man had to have been on his property, despite no evidence being presented in the article. He has post-traumatic stress disorder, which apparently is just fine in combination with hunting game. The cyclist was somehow inconsistent in saying the type of ammunition used, but the article only shows that he clearly states it was birdshot. The veteran wants the guy that he is accusing of, at the least, trespassing (and implicitly, more severe accusations, as he claims the animal would only attack someone messing with his property) to come to his house and apologize. No sense whatsoever.

  • posted by jordyn

    October 17, 2015 1:42 pm

    The story soundsoff due to the fact that the dog was shot in the technically wouldn't that mean that the dog was facing away from the guy?

  • posted by Orange is the new black

    October 17, 2015 1:33 pm

    I feel excessive force. Really, a dog? I feel other methods to fight off the dog should have been used. And yeah why not pepper spray? Dogs getting loose in neighborhoods has been going on for decades so we need to shoot them now? I've been chased by many a loose dog in neighborhoods and have been on foot able to figure out a way to get away. He had a bike and could have rode off? And sadly Americas streets seem more dangerous than Iraq/Afghanistan now since America now worships the almighty gun!

  • posted by Shayne

    October 17, 2015 1:03 pm

    The least this guy could do is apologize. I think that the fact that he hasn't yet, shows that he feels some guilt about the situation and probably took the action somewhat needlessly.
    German Shepherds are scary "looking", and if a person is afraid of dogs to begin with - I can see how maybe one can jump the gun and accidentally take action when none is really called for. I bet that is what happened here.

  • posted by Tera

    October 17, 2015 12:47 pm

    That dog had more specialized training than you do. That dog was a war hero.

    Did you stay with dog you shot until he died, or just ride away leaving him to die alone?

    As a veteran I am shocked at your behavior.

  • posted by kate

    October 17, 2015 12:21 pm

    So, basically, if someone feels afraid it's okay for him to start shooting? That's the true insanity. What's out of control here is the cyclist's fear. And that's scary because he's still going around carrying a weapon. What's he going to be scared of next?

  • posted by Taylor

    October 17, 2015 12:00 pm

    I agree with Paco. While I appreciate Mr. Bessler's service, the fact is that the dog was loose due to someone's irresponsibility. Further, it sounds from the article that several other dogs belonging to Mr. Bessler were loose - yet the friend who was supposed to be watching them had "no idea" how they got loose??

    Just because Mike was a war vet and a service dog does not mean someone should take a bite from him. It's nonsensical to think that the cyclist just decided to shoot Mike on a whim - and then called 911. It's also nonsensical for Mr. Bessler to think he knows what happened when he wasn't there. If anyone owes anyone an apology, it's Mr. Bessler who should apologize for not making sure his dog was restrained since that responsibility ultimately rested with him.

    Yes, even the dogs of responsible owners sometimes escape their confines, and even supposedly "nice" dogs attack, injure and even kill people. It's incredibly presumptuous to say the cyclist could have pedaled away or that the fact that Mike was shot in the back means he was not in attack mode. Easy to say when it wasn't you.

    The cyclist had the right to defend himself, and regardless of Mike's background, it was the irresponsibility of his owner or caretaker or both that led to this unfortunate situation in the first place.

  • posted by Gigi

    October 17, 2015 9:47 am

    why wasn't the service animal with the owner? Normally a service animal is always with the one they provide service for.

  • posted by carla

    October 17, 2015 9:32 am

    Behind Mike and his service dog. That dog would not have attacked with out a command. Something really stinks here.

  • posted by J Monk

    October 17, 2015 9:00 am

    Simply put, a bicyclist on a bike can ride faster than a dog can run, and the dog will tire out and give up before he catches the bicyclist. This fact makes the bicyclist 100% unbelievable, and he should be prosecuted ...

  • posted by John

    October 16, 2015 11:52 pm

    Riding a bike carrying a shotgun? Sounds as if he was looking for this particular dog. Why was he in that neighborhood?

  • posted by sjm

    October 16, 2015 11:01 pm

    You dont shoot a dog in the butt if its atking you. Normal person would shoot it in the front or did you miss that part ?

  • posted by Randy

    October 16, 2015 10:07 am

    First of all ,sorry it was a service dog. I as many others carry weapons on us when we are in the country, the fact that it was bird shot even shows that it intent was for defence. Sad part ,why was the dog in the road making the biker have to take the warning shot to begin with. Bird shot spreads at a high rate and does not have much of a punch, so how did the bird shot get from the dogs butt to its heart? Sad story, but if I had been the biker in the middle of a county road, well the story would have been the same.

  • posted by Tami

    October 16, 2015 8:22 am

    Why not carry pepper spray, you probably wouldn't even need to use it. Why a gun--are you looking to shoot something? Over the years, I could have killed 50 dogs that have come up to me while riding my bike, and I could leave 50 families heart-broken, EXCESSIVE force, don't you think?? How could an attacking dog not get shot at point blank range in the face or chest. 5-10 feet away? Did you yell for help? Please do us all a favor and carry pepper spray.

  • posted by Stephanie

    October 16, 2015 6:13 am

    The fact the dog was shot in the rear and the man was unharmed should say something?

  • posted by Gary Wilkes

    October 16, 2015 12:42 am

    The person responsible for this is the friend who had 'care and keeping' while Bessler was out of town. Would this even be a story if the dog was hit by a Ford F-150? Nope. I understand Bessler's angst, but his emotion is misplaced. To flip the story, was the man suppose to 'take the bite'? Nope.

  • posted by Tami

    October 15, 2015 11:58 pm

    Why not just carry pepper spray, probably wouldn't have had to use it. If I would have shot every dog that came up to me while riding my bike, there would be about 50 dead dogs and 50 heart broken families. EXCESSIVE FORCE DON'T YA THINK??

  • posted by Judy B

    October 15, 2015 8:40 pm

    I am so very sorry for Mr.Bessler's tragic loss of his friend and brave companion. We have no idea what our soldiers go through in combat and how close he and Mike were.. As for me, I am heartfelt thankful for our soldiers willingness to serve. Paco, if anybody sounds like a jerk it is you! The person who shot that dog should grow up and talk to Mr. Bessler and most definitely apologize even if you were within your right.
    Again, THANK YOU Mr. Bessler for your willingness to serve. Please accept my sincere sympathy to you for your loss.

  • posted by Deena John

    October 14, 2015 10:12 pm

    Why is someone an a bicycle caring a gun in the first place???????? Who or what is the nut gonna shoot next??

  • posted by Brent Metzer

    October 14, 2015 9:00 pm

    I knew Mike personally. Spent some quality time with him. With that being said he was a kind animal in every circumstance that I ever seen him in. Very difficult to believe that he installed enough Fear in a passerby to justify the results. No matter how this turns out, this individual whose identity is protected because most people feel that he is in the wrong, will have to spend the rest of his time knowing that he killed a war veteran that sacrificed his own freedom to protect all of us back home. I hope it crosses his mind every day.

  • posted by Zach

    October 14, 2015 6:02 pm

    This dog was trained for combat situations. Its not going to get out and attack a biciclist with no order or an act of aggression on part of the "victim." These dogs are trained just as hard and intricate as our soldiers overseas right now, they aren't just any other dog. This man killed a soldier.

  • posted by paco

    October 14, 2015 5:49 pm

    Bessler sounds like a jerk. He wasn't there, but knows the cyclist is lying?

    Ask yourself what is more likely... that the dog chased and harassed the cyclist in the street in an aggressive manner and he shot the dog in self defense.

    OR the dog was innocently minding its own business in the front yard and the cyclist for some reason felt like stopping his exercise for some target practice, then hanging around to call 911.

    Bessler, you don't deserve an apology and if you're dog was on a leash or in the yard this would never have happened. Dogs chase cyclists all the time. It's not their fault, it's the negligent owners who let them roam free.

  • posted by nj pawley

    October 14, 2015 4:53 pm

    the irony of this dog living through two deployments in the middle east just to get shot in his driveway ...very sad my heart goes out to mat

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