A hunter from Carmel, New York, faces criminal charges after admitting to killing and skinning a family's two beloved German shepherds in Connecticut.
The 61-year-old hunter, Michael Konschak, claimed he thought the pets were coyotes when he shot them with a crossbow on November 18. The incident occurred after the dogs had escaped from their owners' yards in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
During a hearing at Danbury Superior Court, Konschak expressed regret over his actions, stating that he never intended to harm the dogs. The dogs' owners and animal rights advocates attended the hearing, which called on authorities to add animal cruelty charges to Konschak's list of offenses.
In February, he was arrested on charges including tampering with evidence, forgery, interfering with a law enforcement officer, and hunting-related violations. However, the state's attorney, David Applegate, suggested that more charges may be added as the case is still under investigation.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Konschak claimed he was hunting deer on a nearby property when he saw what he thought were two coyotes. He killed the animals with his crossbow and skinned them for their pelts. Konschak's lawyer, Brian Romano, argued that the dogs' deaths were an accident and that his client had mistaken them for coyotes.
However, Applegate pointed out inconsistencies in Konschak's story and questioned how he could have failed to recognize that the animals were dogs before skinning them.
The dogs' owners, Erin Caviola and her family, searched for their pets for weeks after they went missing. Caviola expressed her heartbreak outside the court, stating that the dogs' heads were removed and remain missing. She also spoke of her family's emotional pain since the incident as they thought about what their pets felt in their final moments.
Konschak applied for a special probation program that could have wiped out the charges, but the judge rejected the request at the hearing.
The hunting and trapping of coyotes are legal in Connecticut, but animal rights advocates argue that the incident highlights the need for stricter regulations and penalties for those who harm pets and wildlife. The case continues to attract widespread attention and is expected to set a precedent for similar incidents.
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