Moose the dog was much loved by his Fort Kent family.  Harold Thibeault, 74, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after he allegedly confessed to shooting Moose. Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Alexandra Roberts

FORT KENT, Maine – A 74-year-old Fort Kent man charged with killing his neighbor’s dog last year will face a criminal trial after negotiation with prosecutors failed to result in a plea deal.

Harold Thibeault refused a plea bargain Friday in which prosecutors sought a 60-day jail sentence with all but 40 hours suspended. Thibeault would also have been required to pay restitution for veterinary bills incurred after Moose was shot.

Moose, a 3-year-old blue nose pitbull, was found lying dead in his family yard on Summer Street in September.

Dr. Alexandra Roberts, a family physician and obstetrician at Northern Maine Medical Center, left work early that day when her nanny alerted her that Moose was nowhere to be found.

Roberts discovered Moose’s body, which she said was cold and stiff. When Roberts saw a bullet hole in Moose’s chest, she immediately called police. Roberts’ ex-husband brought the dog to Eastern Maine Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Brewer, where veterinary staff performed X-rays and removed a small projectile from the dog’s heart.

Thibeault admitted to shooting Moose with a pellet gun from his property across the street, according to police. Thibeault lives in a housing complex.

Roberts and her family, including two young children, moved into the home about a week before the shooting from another home up the road. Nobody had ever complained about Moose, she said.

Fort Kent police charged Thibeault in October 2022 with animal cruelty, a class D misdemeanor, which is punishable up to $2,000 in fines and 364 days in jail. 

“We have zero tolerance for animal cruelty and anyone committing these types of acts will be held accountable for their actions,” Fort Kent Police Chief Micheal DeLena said.

Prosecutor Ian Anderson declined to bring the matter before a grand jury to seek felony charges against Thibeault.

The trial will take place at Caribou Superior Court and is yet to be scheduled.

“The fight for animal justice is long from over, and I’m just getting started,” she said.