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Deputies responding to grass fire discover Philadelphia man allegedly shot two puppies

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PHILADELPHIA — A husband and wife were arrested late Friday afternoon after an investigation of gunshots and an out-of-control grass fire revealed that the man had shot two puppies, police say.

Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies arrived at 33047 Holmes Road to find a large area of land on fire and called for Department of Environmental Conservation and local fire department assistance. After an investigation, it was discovered that Nicholas E. Mitchell, 35, of 32310 Route 26, had shot two pit bull puppies that he could not and did not want to care for, deputies said.

The first, a 24-week-old black pit bull named Lyla, survived the first shot and ran away. Deputies said Mr. Mitchell then shot the dog a second time, carried the body behind his residence and dumped the carcass. Mr. Mitchell fired a total of four shots but does not have a state pistol permit, deputies said.

The second dog, a 24-week-old pit bull named Gemma, was shot once by Mr. Mitchell, deputies said. The dog then was brought over the berm behind his residence where the other dog’s body had been dumped. The second puppy survived but ultimately was found and put down by deputies at the scene to end its suffering.

Mr. Mitchell’s wife, Taarin D. Mitchell, 29, of 512A Sleepy Hollow Road, Gouverneur, also was at the residence, despite a court order of protection barring the two from being in contact with each other, deputies said. They said the two were cleaning the Holmes Road residence, violating a stay-away refrain-from order of protection, issued by Family Court, valid until Aug. 1.

The Mitchells were charged with second-degree criminal contempt for allegedly violating the protection orders and were issued state DEC tickets for alleged burning-rules violations. Mr. Mitchell also was charged with two counts of torturing or injuring animals and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class E felony. He also received a DEC ticket for allegedly firing a gun within 500 feet of a dwelling.

The couple were issued tickets to appear in Town Court on all the charges.

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