St. George man faces animal cruelty charges

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St. George, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – A man accused of killing his neighbor’s 2-pound Yorkshire Terrier in St. George now faces animal cruelty charges.

“I am so grateful that he was charged,” said Chewy’s owner Nancy Limburg.

Limburg and her daughters are still healing since their beloved family pet was killed last November. Limburg says her neighbor, Kenyon Benson, hit Chewy with gardening shears when the dog ran into his yard.  She says her 12-year-old daughter Haley saw it happen, and has had to see medical professionals to deal with the trauma.

“For the sake of Chewy, I hope there is a guilty plea, that he’s convicted,” said Limburg.

Benson faced the judge for the first time on Wednesday, telling the judge that Chewy’s death was accidental. Nancy made sure she was there.

“You know, he didn’t plead guilty, and he didn’t plead no contest. He actually wants to take this to a bench trial,” said Limburg.

The Humane Society of Utah is also speaking out about the charges.

We’re just hoping that he is held accountable because we do feel this was a loss to the family. This was a family member to them,” said Deann Shepherd, Director of Communications with The Humane Society of Utah.

Now with a scheduled trial, Nancy’s been told her 12-year-old daughter will have to take the stand.

Breaks my heart she is going to have to go through this trial, because she will be a witness, and have to testify,” said Limburg.

“We’ll attend sentencing and be asked that he’s charged to the maximum penalty,” said Shepherd.

If convicted, Benson faces up to a year in prison and a 2500 dollar fine.

“In Utah pets are still considered property, so they will be charging this man with the idea that it was destruction of property. However we do understand that these pets are seen more as family members to many pet owners and we do encourage Utah law to take that into consideration that this was not just a dog, this was member of the family, and was almost seen as a child,” said Shepherd.

Benson is scheduled for trial on July 6th.

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