MEDIA RELEASE: Hunter Who Shot and Skinned Family’s German Shepherds Gets Slap On Wrist
DANBURY, Conn. (Oct. 5, 2023) — In Defense of Animals is disappointed in the sentencing of Michael Konschak, who killed and skinned two beloved German shepherds in 2022.
Konschak was charged with forgery, tampering with evidence, interfering with a law enforcement officer, and violating hunting regulations.He pleaded guilty to one count of animal cruelty and one count of interfering with an officer. He received a suspended 728-day prison sentence, can’t possess firearms, or any weapon that shoots projectiles, and is banned from acquiring animals while he is on probation for three years. He also has to pay $9,700 in restitution, including a $2,000 donation to a local animal welfare organization, and isn’t allowed to have unsupervised visits with animals who are not part of his family.
On November 18, 2022, the Caviola family's dogs Cimo and Lieben escaped from their yard through a damaged fence. The family searched frantically for weeks, only to learn later that they had been killed on an adjacent property shortly after escaping — and only then because a good Samaritan came forward after seeing images that were shared of their remains.
The Environmental Conservation Police investigated the case and arrested Mike Konschak of Carmel, New York, in February 2023.
Konschak claimed he thought they were coyotes and was also hunting illegally on property he had forged permission to be on. He claimed he shot the first dog with a crossbow with a scope from about 20 yards away, and that the second dog ran away. When he tried to approach the dog he killed, heartbreakingly, the second came back and approached “in an aggressive manner with its head down and bearing (sic) teeth,” so he shot that one too.
He also tried twice to have the dogs taxidermied but was turned away both times over concerns the remains were dogs. After being denied the first time, he returned home and skinned them himself, and took their skins to someone else.
In Defense of Animals furnished prosecuting State Attorney David Applegate with a letter with more than 15,000 signatures asking for this case to be prosecuted to the fullest, and for animal cruelty charges to be added.
On February 28, 2023, Konschak applied for an accelerated rehabilitation program to be conducted before his trial claiming he thought the dogs were coyotes. The program would have allowed him to have his charges dropped. The state attorney countered that once the dogs were shot, it was clear they were dogs. Lieben was neutered and Cimo had a large spay scar. He continued that anyone familiar with wildlife would know these were dogs.
The judge denied Konschak the privilege of the accelerated rehabilitation program due to the seriousness of the case to applause.
“The suffering Michael Konschak put Lieben and Cimo and their family through is irredeemable,” said Doll Stanley, Senior Campaigner for In Defense of Animals. “This sentencing is an insult and does not at all reflect the severity of the cowardly crimes committed or harm caused. Dogs are members of the family, and thousands of In Defense of Animals supported our call for justice. We expect better and will continue our fight to get justice for animals.”
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Contact: Doll Stanley, [email protected], (662) 809-4483
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of defending animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, California, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/justice4animals
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