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Hunter Killed and Skinned Family's Pet German Shepherds, Says He Thought They Were Coyotes

Dogs escaped from yard were killed with crossbow.

A hunter killed and skinned what he thought were two coyotes, but they turned out to be a Connecticut family's pet German shepherds. During a packed hearing in Danbury Superior Court, Michael Konschak, 61, of Carmel, New York, said he was ashamed of what he did. "Please know that it was never my intent that morning to harm the victims' pets," he said. Konschak is now facing several charges—but surprisingly, not animal cruelty. Read on find out more about the case. 

Dogs Escaped From Yard, Killed With Crossbow


The Caviola family's dogs—Lieben, a female, and Cimo, a male, both ten years old—went missing in November after a fence on their Ridgefield property was damaged, possibly by a bear. Erin Caviola told CBS News she and her family searched for their dogs for weeks and posted flyers about the missing pair. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, on Nov. 18, Konschak was hunting deer on property near the Caviolas' home and said he killed what he thought were two coyotes with a crossbow. His lawyer, Brian Romano, said Konschak skinned the animals for their pelts. 

Numerous Charges Filed

Police with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection arrested Konschak in February on charges including tampering with evidence, forgery, interfering with a law enforcement officer and hunting-related violations, CBS News reported. He is scheduled to appear in court again next month. Animal rights activists have urged authorities to add animal cruelty charges, CBS reported. The state's attorney said the investigation is ongoing, and more charges are possible.

Killings Were Accidental, Lawyer Claims


Konschak's lawyer has called the deaths an accident and claimed that Konschak couldn't see that the animals were dogs, not coyotes. But prosecutor David Applegate claimed there were inconsistencies in Konschak's story and questioned how Konschak couldn't realize the animals were dogs before he skinned them. About a month after the dogs went missing, the Caviolas hired a tracking dog who traced the animals' scent to a nearby property.

After the family posted about this on social media, a person contacted Erin Caviola and sent her photos of the dogs' bodies. The person said Konschak had been sharing photos of the dogs online and that he had taken hides to a taxidermist to be tanned but were turned away because they were from dogs. "The pictures that we got was them posed on the ground, laying there, and you could clearly see that they both had been shot in the chest," Caviola told FOX 5 NY. 

A "Large Emotional Toll on Our Family"


"We live with the emotional pain as we think about what they felt in their final moments lying beside each other dying," Erin Caviola said in her victim impact statement. "They loved each other so much, to picture that is heartbreaking." She 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."

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Grieving Owner Starts Petition

Caviola has started a petition to have animal cruelty added to the charges against Konschak and to have his hunting license revoked. She claims the New York resident didn't have a valid license to hunt on property in Connecticut. 

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