Putnam County resident Michael Konschak, age 61, of Carmel, faces tampering with evidence, forgery, and hunting-related violation charges after allegedly killing the two dogs in northern Fairfield County on Friday, Nov. 18 after they escaped their owner's home.
Konschak was arrested by environmental conservation police associated with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental protection on Wednesday, Feb. 8, according to court documents.
The two dogs, named Cimo and Lieben, had belonged to Ridgefield resident Erin Caviola and had gone missing after a bear tore down part of the six-foot fence in Caviola's backyard. After seeing the bear, the two dogs gave chase and were not seen again by Caviola.
Caviola's family then spent weeks looking for the two pets and eventually hired a tracking dog to help find them. Once getting a whiff of their scent, the tracking dog led the family to a wooded location, which they then shared in a viral social media post.
The next day, on Monday, Dec. 12, a person came forward to the family and told them that pictures of the dogs, who had been killed and skinned, had been shared by Konschak, who claimed that he had thought they were coyotes.
Since then, the family watched as authorities investigated and eventually arrested Konschak in February.
In a victim impact statement, Caviola described the horror of learning that her two dogs had been killed.
"In the murders of Cimo and Lieben we have had no closure. We have had no comfort. All we have is pain, anger, disappointment, and worst of all, the horribly gruesome images of our beloved dogs shot dead and skinned," she said.
Caviola added, "Their murder, skinning, and beheading has taken a very large emotional toll on our family. The violence of Cimo and Lieben’s death and mutilation has caused unimaginable trauma, suffering, exhaustion and has left a black cloud over our usually happy and loving family."
Caviola also expressed doubt that Konschak had mistaken the pets for wild animals, saying that the two dogs bore features that a coyote would not have including signs of minor surgeries and the fact that Cimo was neutered.
Konschak, who was accused of forging permission to hunt in Connecticut, has since been charged with the following in relation to the killings:
- Tampering with physical evidence, a felony;
- Second-degree forgery, a felony;
- Interfering with an officer; a misdemeanor;
- Illegal deer killing without a permit;
- Violation of wild game hunting regulations.
He has since been released on a $15,000 bond and will next appear in Danbury Superior Court on Wednesday, April 12.
Caviola's family has since started a petition on Change.org urging for Konschak to be charged with animal cruelty, which had been signed by over 93,000 people as of Thursday, March 2.
The petition had also urged against Konschak applying for Accelerated Rehabilitation, which would have erased his charges from public record. His application for the program has since been denied.
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