Sign In

Man Nicknamed ‘Wild Willie’ Gets 5 Years For Shooting Vietnam Vet’s Therapy Dog

May 4, 2020

A New Jersey man was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for fatally shooting his neighbor’s therapy dog.

Bob Cook, a Vietnam War veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, went out looking for his Pomeranian-poodle mix, Toby, after the dog got out of the house on Sept. 17, 2019 and didn’t come back, local news station NBC10 reported.

Cook found Toby in the street, howling in pain.

The Cook family originally thought the dog had been hit by a car, according to a probable cause report obtained by the Courier-Post, a local newspaper.

But when they took him to a vet’s office, they discovered the horrible truth – Toby had been shot in the head.

He was euthanized the next day, the Courier-Post reported.

The investigation soon zeroed in on a neighbor of Cook’s, the 64-year-old heavy equipment operator William Stroemel – known to his friends as “Wild Willie.”

Shortly after the incident, Stroemel had given his air rifle to an acquaintance for safe keeping, saying he was going on a vacation. The acquaintance kept the rifle under his bed for three days, but took it to police after he heard Stroemel was suspected of shooting Toby, according to the probable cause report.

Following a necropsy, investigators were able to connect the pellet lodged in Toby’s skull with Stroemel’s rifle, according to a press release by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.

Further investigation revealed that Stroemel had shot Toby while the dog was walking in the street near his home, according to the press release.

Stroemel was charged with animal cruelty and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.

“There are few criminal acts as callous as shooting an innocent dog that is the beloved pet of one of your neighbors,” prosecutor Scott Coffina said in the release. “But Toby was not just a family pet, he was also a therapy dog and helped relieve the post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by a Vietnam War veteran.

“Such flagrant disregard for life and the impact of one’s actions demands serious punishment, and we believe this plea agreement reflects that.”

But of course, there is nothing that can bring Cook’s dog back.

“I’ll miss him the rest of my days,” Cook told NBC10.

Register your Dog Schedule a Visit

  • Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogs At School

    Those who own a dog can attest to their ability to lift mood, improve stress and bring joy by simply being there, unanswering, seemingly all-knowing and always delighted to see you.  Therapy animals are known for their calm and comforting nature, giving people a way to relax, de-stress and interact with a loving pet.  They […]

    Read more

    Wonder Dog

    For those of us with dogs, we know they quickly become major parts of the family. You live for and care for just like one of your own children, and one dog right here in Oklahoma City is beating the odds, and helping others recover as a therapy dog, despite all of the issues he’s […]

    Read more

    Scott And Charlie

    Cherokee Middle School students may do a little more “doodling” second semester starting this month (January), but also will improve their attendance marks because of a special attraction at the school, courtesy of Principal Scott Aden. Aden, an effective, caring administrator, has acquired and will house and handle a young female Golden Doodle (Charlie) that […]

    Read more

    Hope For Veterans

    E5 Therapy opened in April with a different way to help veterans in therapy. They offer canine-assisted therapy along with talk therapy to veterans and veterans’ families in Solano County. Owner Matthew Decker is a licensed clinical social worker in Northern California, focused on helping veterans achieve their mental health goals. Along with his team, […]

    Read more