A Maple Shade man pleaded guilty Thursday to shooting a neighbor's dog in the head last year.

William "Wild Willy" Stroemel, a 64-year-old machine operator from Maple Shade, used an air rifle to shoot the small dog Toby in the had. Prosecutors said the dog was not on Stroemel's property but just passing his home on the street.

Neighbors of the dog's owner heard the poodle yowling in pain back in September and the animal later had to be put down the next day. A necropsy discovered an air rifle pellet in the dog's head.

Stroemel pleaded guilty to second-degree possession of weapon for an unlawful purpose and third-degree animal cruelty. He faces five years in prison when he is sentenced in July as part of a plea deal.

He also must pay restitution for the cost of the dog's veterinary car and necropsy.

Prosecutors said that after shooting the dog, Stroemel gave the rifle to an acquaintance. Among the initial charges against came from police discovering a .22 pistol at his home.

“There are few criminal acts as callous as shooting an innocent dog that is the beloved pet of one of your neighbors,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a written statement. “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.”

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.