Dog-tosser sentenced to 7 months in jail

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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A woman who threw her boyfriend’s dog into freeway traffic, killing it in December, will spend seven months in jail and barred from owning pets for five years.

The sentence was imposed Friday afternoon by Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson. Shellie Hubbard, 46, of Portland pleaded guilty Aug. 30 to first-degree animal cruelty, third-degree assault and possession of methamphetamine.

The judge noted the seriousness of the case that sparked public interest last winter, summing up Hubbard’s actions: “It endangered other people, the victim, and then obviously the throwing of the dog in traffic” caused an animal’s death.

The crime happened the evening of Dec. 22, when Hubbard got into an argument with her boyfriend, Darwin Vonschirmer, while Vonschirmer was driving south on Interstate 205. The couple were apparently breaking up, attorneys have said. As their car approached Padden Parkway, Hubbard struck him with a broken coffee mug, slicing his hand, troopers said at the time.

Vonschirmer pulled the car over to the shoulder. As they continued arguing, Hubbard let the Catahoula leopard hound dog, Peanut Butter, out of the car. When Vonschirmer tried to scoop up the dog, she threw Peanut Butter into traffic.

As the dog attempted to walk back to the freeway’s shoulder, it was struck by a car and died at the scene.

The sentencing range for first-degree animal cruelty is up to one year in jail. Prosecutors and the defense both recommended a seven-month sentence. Hubbard has credit for 52 days served.

“It is a substantial sentence within our sentencing ranges,” Johnson agreed, imposing the term.

The judge also ordered a substance abuse evaluation because one of Hubbard’s crimes is drug-related.

Hubbard did not wish to speak at the hearing. On her behalf, defense attorney Jeff Sowder said his client loved Peanut Butter; she even retrieved the dog’s body from the freeway 10 days after she was released from jail and buried the dog herself.

“I think (her boyfriend) would say the dog was both of theirs,” Sowder said.

Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Nisle read a statement written by Vonschirmer, who wasn’t present for the hearing. He said he was still grieving Peanut Butter and another dog who ran away around the same time as the incident.

“I miss my animals every day, and I think about them every day,” he wrote, later adding: “I have forgiven her. I no longer feel threatened by her.”

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.