Laramie County District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg announced Tuesday that no criminal charges will be filed against three Cheyenne Animal Shelter employees who pepper sprayed a dog after it bit an employee.

The pepper spraying occurred on Sept. 5, a day after the dog -- an 80 pound pit bull named Tanner -- attacked employee Marissa Cox. The dog was euthanized on Sept. 6.

Police investigated the incident and determined shelter CEO Bob Fecht and animal control officers Eric Smale and Ryan Johnson "did commit animal abuse by unnecessarily tormenting the dog when it was sprayed with pepper spray."

They announced Sept. 26 they were recommending charges of misdemeanor animal abuse for the three, but Sandburg says "there was no way to bring vicarious liability charges for that act."

"Vicarious liability is holding somebody responsible for the act of another person," said Sandburg. "So if I command somebody to go commit a particular act, yeah I'd be held liable for the person committing that act. In Wyoming, you can only be held liable if the act is the commission of a felony."

"I know people are going to be really upset," he added. "What I would encourage them to do is talk to their legislator and the city council about fixing the laws in Wyoming so that we don't have another scenario like this down the line."


Click here to read the Laramie County District Attorney's Office press release.