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Man accused of poisoning neighbor's dogs after barking dispute

MICHAEL LYNCH MUG.jpg

A Portland man pleaded not guilty this week to several animal abuse charges claiming he poisoned two of his neighbor's dogs after a dispute over the animals barking.

Michael Lynch, a 76-year-old who lives alone in Northeast Portland, was frustrated over his neighbors dogs waking him up barking in the middle of the night, court documents say. Lynch told officials he got into what likely amounted to a shouting match with the dogs' owner when he went over to the house after being woken by barking at 3:20 a.m.

According to the court documents, Lynch called county animal services multiple times complaining of noisy dogs next door, but officials said they didn't have enough info to take action. Lynch is quoted in the court documents as telling officers he'd just have to "handle it on his own.”

The alleged poisoning took place in mid-July last summer. When the neighbor had to take his dogs to the vet for vomiting and general wooziness, suspicions peaked.

Lab results eventually showed the dogs' stomach contents to contain traces of nicotine, salicylic acid and components related to castor oil and ricinine. When the homeowner found pieces of meat in the yard, he told authorities he thought his dogs may have been poisoned.

Executing a search warrant at Lynch's home, investigators found slingshots presumably used to launch poisoned meat into the neighbors yard, court documents explain. They even found a note detailing the plan, plus jars and containers labeled with words like "botulism", "poison" and "nicotine" inside Lynch's home.

In separate areas, the search team found castor seeds, hemlock and a calendar marked with times the dogs barked. They also found wrapped meat soaking in a "green liquid."

Side notes:

  • Ricinine, made from an already poisonous castor oil, can be lethal even in small quantities
  • Hemlock is highly lethal plant, most infamously used to execute Socrates
  • Salicylic acid , commonly used in acne medicine, is toxic in large quantities
  • Nicotine, the addictive ingredient in most tobacco products, can be lethal when concentrated

Both dogs survived the ordeal, records indicate.

When law enforcement came to execute the search warrant, Lynch pulled up into the driveway and got out of the car to talk it out, the documents said. He indicated he was armed and reached for his waistband, and a deputy grabbed his hands and took a revolver from his waistband, per the report. They later learned Lynch did not have a the proper permit to conceal a firearm in such a way.

The 76-year-old now faces charges including first-degree attempted aggravated animal abuse, two counts of first-degree attempted animal abuse, second-degree animal abuse and unlawful possession of a firearm. Lynch's next court date has been set for May 18.

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