G.I. Man Faces 2 Felonies For Killing Dog With Hammer

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A Grand Island man has been charged with two felonies for beating a 6-month-old puppy to death with a ball-peen hammer.

Michael J. Berst, 26, of 2408 W. First appeared in Hall County Court via video conference Monday morning. He was charged with the cruel neglect of an animal resulting in serious injury or death and tampering with physical evidence for the April 15 incident involving a pit bull terrier mix named Buddy.

In court, Deputy Hall County Attorney Nancy Berger-Schneider said someone saw Berst tossing what appeared to be an animal’s body in a trash bin. That person notified authorities, and animal control officers from the Central Nebraska Humane Society responded and retrieved the puppy’s body from the trash. Authorities determined the puppy belonged to Berst’s family, she said.

The animal had been killed by blows to the head from a ball-peen hammer, she said.

When questioned by police, Berst admitted killing his family’s dog, she said.

According to online records from the Hall County Jail, Berst was arrested at his home on Sunday.

Berger-Schneider asked for a bond of 10 percent of $100,000 due to the “heinous nature” of the crime and because Berst has previously failed to appear in court when required in another case. Hall County Judge Art Wetzel granted the request.

Prior to the setting of his bond, Berst said he thought he could hire his own attorney. Wetzel told him that if he’s unable to hire an attorney, he can request court-appointed counsel and fill out a financial affidavit for the court to review.

Berst’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 11. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each felony.

According to court records, Berst’s criminal history in Hall County includes charges of aiding and abetting a felony and misdemeanor theft in 2005, misdemeanor criminal mischief in 2006 and driving under suspension in 2011.

Laurie Dethloff, Central Nebraska Humane Society executive director, said, as far as she knew, animal control officers hadn’t investigated Berst for animal cruelty in the past.

In this case, they were called by a woman who was concerned when she saw a man throwing an animal’s body away. Humane Society staff was later contacted by someone who’d spoken to Berst about the dog’s death. That led to an investigation, she said.

She said it was her understanding that Berst told police officers he had struck the dog because he was angry at the animal for relieving himself on the floor.

Dethloff praised the two people who contacted the Humane Society with information in this case. She said hearing from the public is key in building many of the neglect and abuse cases animal control officers investigate.

“We’re starting to see more suspicious stuff,” she said. “The neglect we are seeing has accelerated over the last six to nine months. It’s unnerving.”

 His pretrial is scheduled for July 17.

News Link:http://www.kearneyhub.com/news/regional_news/g-i-man-faces-felonies-for-killing-dog-with-hammer/article_d05e5ac0-ac25-11e2-8c7f-001a4bcf887a.html

Fairbanks man arrested for brutal animal cruelty

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FAIRBANKS — A 47-year-old Fairbanks man is facing a felony charge of cruelty to animals for allegedly beating a dog last week.

Fairbanks police arrested Billy Ahkiviana, 47, Friday after neighbors who witnessed the alleged beating called 911. They reported a man with no shirt on was trying to kill a small, white dog at a Turner Street home.

Ahkiviana is accused of punching and kicking the dog, as well as slamming it into the mud while it was on a chain. Ahkiviana also allegedly hung the dog by its neck for 10 or 15 seconds by the chain.

Ahkiviana was arraigned on Saturday and is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center on $6,000 bail. A preliminary hearing has been set for Tuesday.

The dog survived and at last report was being held in protective custody at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Control shelter.

Police could hear a dog whimpering behind the house when they arrived just before 9 p.m. Ahkiviana came out from the back of the house breathing heavily when police arrived. He appeared to be irate, police said in charging documents.

Officer Dustin Stonecipher found a small, white dog cowering the corner of a dog house in the back of the home. The dog was shaking and appeared to be in a state of panic. It was caked in fresh mud and appeared to be emaciated. Stonecipher attempted to check the dog for injuries but it wouldn’t come to him. The police report did not say what kind of dog it was.

Ahkiviana, meanwhile, was placed in handcuffs by Officer Alana Malloy. Police described Ahkiviana as belligerent and higly intoxicated.

Stonecipher interviewed the neighboring couple who called police. The man told police his wife heard the dog “screaming” and called him to look out their second-story window to see what was happening. The man told Stonecipher he saw Ahkiviana punching and slamming the dog into the mud.

The man said he yelled at Ahkiviana to stop and called 911. Ahkiviana let the dog down when he heard the caller talking to the police dispatcher, the man said. The man’s wife verified his account of the attack.

The neighbors described the dog as “very timid” and said it rarely barked.

Officer Malloy was able to retrieve the dog from the dog house and police took the animal to the emergency veterinary clinic to be evaluated and treated for injuries. The dog, which did not have any broken bones, was cleaned up and given pain medication to treat bruising, pain and stiffness in its neck.

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Fairbanks man arrested for brutal animal cruelty

Dresden – Pair Charged with Puppy Killing Appear in Court – Video

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“What they did to that puppy, was unjustified & people are not going to forget it for a long time.  They deserve nothing less than the minimum 2 years in jail, anything less is just a slap on the wrist. See the video link below!” 

In Dresden, the two teens accused of torturing and stabbing a 4-month-old Saint Bernard puppy to death, appeared in front of a judge, Wednesday. 

The courtroom was filled with upset residents and family members for both Preston Odle,18, and Levi Evans, 19, who each face a charge of especially aggravated animal cruelty in connection with the incident in May.

Emotions ran high during their preliminary hearing. Residents said they are still outraged and fearful the two will hurt someone or something else. “This time it was a puppy. Next time it might be a little baby,” said Glyn Watson who lives in Atwood.

During the hearing, Odle and Evans learned the District Attorney is pursuing Class-E felonies again them, which typically carry a one to two year sentence.

Some residents said, they believe two years is not enough for the life of a puppy. “This punishment for this crime does not fit,” said Brenda Watson of Atwood.

Defense attorneys said both Odle and Evans waived their right to a preliminary hearing. Their cases will now move to the grand jury in September. Until then the court ruled they are to stay in Weakley County and undergo mandatory counseling.

“He has placed a curfew of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week on both of these young men,” said Lang Unger, Odle’s Defense Attorney.

The judge also ordered no contact with any animals while they are in treatment. Residents said, they felt the restrictions placed on both were too light considering the nature of the crime they are accused of.

Well they could still hurt somebody before 8 o’ clock as long as they are home I guess the court ruled it doesn’t matter,” said Lyndsay Burnett of McKenzie.

Animal cruelty is a growing problem in the south region and they are now taking a stand, said local animal rights activists.

“That’s the first step to getting everything changed. We want to get the punishment for these crimes changed,” said Watson.

Unger said his client was anxious during the hearing, due to the enormous attention on the internet, surrounding this case.

“We’ve been monitoring some of the things on the internet and I’m disturbed by some of the more vocal folks who want to make those kind of threats that’s not productive, I hope that ceases.” said Unger.

Odle has endured many hardships over the years that will become more evident throughout this case, said Unger. “Yes he has, but that’s not an excuse for torturing & killing a puppy

Both Odle and Evans are scheduled to reappear in court September 10th.

Video & News Link:http://www.wbbjtv.com/news/local/Pair-Charged-with-Puppy-Abuse-Appear-in-Court–158967305.html

Woman accused of killing kittens

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DOVER, Del. — Authorities in Delaware are searching for a Florida woman accused of crushing three kittens to death with her hands.

The Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is trying to track down 21-year-old Ashley Barnes, who is charged with three counts of animal cruelty.

Barnes was arrested on April 17 and released on unsecured bond. A warrant was issued for her after she failed to appear for a preliminary hearing on April 25.

SPCA investigator Amy Nicholson says the incident happened on April 6 while Barnes was staying with friends in Millsboro, and that Barnes may have been under the influence of drugs at the time.

Nicholson says Barnes had been staying in Delaware for only about five weeks, and that she may have returned to Florida.

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