LAKEVILLE, Mass. — A Massachusetts man has been criminally charged for shooting a neighbor’s dog in what he calls an act of self-defense.

Police say 61-year-old Mark Vasseur, of Lakeville, is charged with malicious killing of a domesticated animal. His arraignment has not been scheduled.

Krissy Dashner and Pat Bates say they were looking for the golden retriever, named Walle, near their Lakeville home on Sunday night when they heard five gunshots in the distance.

Vasseur says he fired believing that the dog might bite him. He says it was growling and going after his chickens.