A Minnesota sheriff says a dog named Donald Trump wasn’t shot and killed over a political rivalry, despite false claims circulating on social media that have spurred “violent threats” against some county residents.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office concluded the person who shot Donald Trump the dog Sunday was “legally protecting their livestock” on private property. The shooter has not been identified.
“Facts have been misrepresented on social media sites,” Sheriff Shawn Haken’s office said in a statement about the dog’s death. “Unfortunately, people are now posting multiple threats of violence towards citizens in the area and justifying the threats based on these inaccurate posts on social media.”
The dog’s owner, 59-year-old Randal Thom of Lakefield, is an avid supporter of the president who has attended 46 of his rallies. Trump signed Thom’s photo of the dog at one of the rallies. The Alaskan Malamute was born in 2016, the same year Trump was elected, inspiring the name.
Some social media users claimed a neighbor, who they believed to be a Democrat, intentionally killed Thom’s dog because of the namesake. Thom said he’s “heartbroken” over Donald Trump’s death but did not think politics motivated the dog’s shooting.
“We have had some words back and forth about political stuff, whether he actually did it out of spite or not, I won’t subscribe to that totally,” Thom said of the neighbor he believes shot the dog. Thom found the dog late Sunday night after demonstrating at Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s presidential launch event in Minneapolis.
Neighbors have lodged 14 complaints about Thom’s dogs running loose, killing animals and attacking a person, according to the sheriff. Thom was convicted on a petty misdemeanor of “dogs and cats at large” in 2015, according to Minnesota court records. Thom said he owns seven other dogs and installed fencing around his land last year to keep the dogs from leaving the property.
Lakefield is about 160 miles (257 kilometers) southwest of Minneapolis.