ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) A southern Utah family continues to mourn after accusing their neighbor of killing their pet dog with garden sheers. The family says they are upset the man hasn’t been arrested.
Police tell ABC4 Utah they are still investigating what happened in the east St. George neighborhood. But the family who lost their dog say that’s not enough.
The Limburg family sets up a small memorial where they say their two-pound Yorkshire Terrier died Friday.
Nancy Limburg says she let her dog, Chewy, out the front door with her 12-year-old daughter, Haley. The child says the yorkie heard neighbor dogs barking in a backyard and ran across the cul-de-sac.
Then, they say, the neighbor used these gardening sheers to hit the dog running toward him while doing yard work.
“The next thing I know, she came running in and said, “Mom, the neighbor just killed Chewy,” Limburg said.
Chewy was a constant companion for the family, often playing dress up in doll clothes. Haley said the man hit the six-year-old dog twice, killing it instantly.
“For her to see that, for her animal that she’s had since she was six, it’s pretty traumatic,” Limburg said.
The family says Friday was the first interaction they’ve had as neighbors and insist the small dog has not show any aggression.
“Understanding the trauma that the family went through with the death of their dog, it is something we take into consideration in the investigation,” St. George Police Capt. Mike Giles said.
Capt. Giles says his department is actively investigating the dog’s death. And while officers have not made an arrest, investigators are gathering information they plan to give to the Washington County prosecutor for possible charges.
Officers are also looking to see if any laws were broken with the dog off-leash.
“It doesn’t just boil down if the dog was killed or wasn’t it. To be able to determine what the intent of the person who killed the dog was. We need to look into those circumstances. That does influence the level of offense that potentially could be charged,” Capt. Giles said.
Because the man has not been charged with any crime, ABC4 Utah will not release his name. He was not reached for comment.
The family says they have preserved the dog’s body and have requested an autopsy. Limburg says she is also considering a civil suit against the man and has retained an attorney.
In a statement to ABC4 Utah, Humane Society of Utah’s Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt said, “This is a deplorable act, and we are trying to understand why the assailant felt that he needed to respond toward the approach of a two-pound dog in such an extreme manner. We applaud the St. George Police Department for their due diligence in investigating this case and ask that the maximum charges be applied. Unfortunately, this situation should never have happened, and we extend our deepest condolences to the Limburg family in their time of loss.”
Possible violations include, but are not limited to, aggravated cruelty to an animal for killing without having a legal privilege to do so. Charges could result in a Class A, B or C misdemeanor depending on the intent of the assailant, which may be punishable by a term up to one year in prison and a fine up to $2,500.
“If a person has an animal complaint, they should speak with the pet’s owner or contact their local animal control services or local authorities, they should never take the matter into their own hands,” Baiershmidt added.
The Humane Society of Utah strongly encourages pet owners to maintain their pets on their property.