Austin man who accidentally killed family’s dog while shooting arrows in Waco gets deferred probation

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 4:29 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - An Austin man who accidentally killed a family’s beloved pet dog while shooting arrows in November 2020 was sentenced to misdemeanor deferred probation Tuesday after his guilty plea to a reduced charge.

Judge Susan Kelly of Waco’s 54th State District Court placed Taylor Colton Riley, 37, on deferred probation for two years after Riley pleaded guilty to Class A misdemeanor cruelty to a non-livestock animal.

The judge also ordered Riley to perform 40 hours of community service and to pay $2,200 in restitution in lieu of a fine under the terms of Riley’s plea agreement with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office.

Riley, a welder, shot an 8-month-old golden doodle named Bailey, while doing target practice with his bow and arrows in the back yard of his grandparent’s home on Kingston Drive. The dog’s owner, Dale Dickenson, was walking Bailey in a common area in the 300 block of Kinston Drive near Old McGregor Road when the arrow struck the dog in the hind quarter and “pretty much went through her entire body,” Dickenson said at the time.

During the brief hearing, the judge asked Riley, “you didn’t mean to do this, did you?”

“Of course not,” Riley said.

“So you were just out there practicing your bow?” the judge asked.

“It’s kind of a release for me,” Riley said.

Riley and his attorney, Brinda Guerra-Lopez, declined comment after Tuesday’s hearing.

Riley told the judge he paid the veterinarian bill and for cremation of the dog and helped rush Dickenson and the dog to an emergency clinic. Dickenson said the dog died in his arms on the way.

“If anyone is target practicing in their back yard or anywhere, an errant arrow could hurt somebody or kill somebody,” Dickenson said in November 2020. “I was 2 feet behind Bailey. It could have easily been me that was struck, and in many ways I kind of wish that it was.”

Dickenson called Waco police but said he was told the case was a civil matter. He reported it to the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, which filed a third-degree felony animal cruelty charge, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Riley pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge, which carried a potential penalty of up to a year in the county jail and a $4,000 fine.