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Summit Park woman convicted of aggravated animal cruelty in dog poisoning

Woman found guilty in death of 5-month-old dog

Moab, a vizsla, was five months old when he died unexpectedly after ingesting strychnine.
(Courtesy of Katy Bauer)

Katy Bauer knew nothing would bring back her 5-month-old puppy, Moab, after he unexpectedly died of strychnine poisoning in May. But, when her Summit Park neighbor was recently convicted of aggravated animal cruelty, she said she can finally have some closure.

“I’m just glad that something was done about it. It reassures myself and my boyfriend that something wasn’t right there,” Bauer said. “Everyone was like, ‘Just let it go.’ But it could have led to future pets, wildlife or others being hurt. I’m really glad that we went to trial. It’s just reassuring to know that it wasn’t a waste of time.”

Nina Maria Bennett, 68, of Summit Park, had pleaded not guilty in the 3rd District Court of Summit County to aggravated animal cruelty, a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable upon conviction by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Judge Shauna Kerr found Bennett guilty on Tuesday, Nov. 29, of aggravated animal cruelty and ordered her to pay $1,086 in restitution by Dec. 29, according to court documents.

Bauer adopted Moab, a vizsla, in January when he was 8 weeks old. She said he was intended as a companion for their 2-year-old dog, Ginger.

“He was just like a crazy little puppy. He was so sweet. We used to call him Chris Farley because he was like a little fat kid who loved food,” she said with a laugh.

In May, Bauer was in her backyard working on her home while both dogs played. Bauer said her yard is unfenced, like most of her neighbors’ yards.

“We were out back in the backyard and my neighbor was up on the hill and she was doing some gardening,” Bauer said. “We started a conversation and while we were talking Moab walked up the hill, about 20 or 30 feet from me, and he was up in her yard being a dog sniffing around for about a minute and then I was like, ‘hey come back’ and he came back down and I put them inside.”

Bauer said Moab immediately began acting “strange, as if he had been electrocuted.” Within minutes, she said he suffered multiple seizures.

“He probably had about six seizures, but after the third time I said we had to take him to the vet right now,” Bauer said. “We live like two miles from Powder Paws and when we were at the stop sign down the road, I looked over and saw his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

“It was really hard for me to admit that we lost him then,” Bauer said through tears.

Bauer said Dr. Kate Bjordahl, at Powder Paws, “tried everything she could for like 15 minutes before she came out and told us we lost him.”

“We didn’t know for a couple of days what had happened so we kind of thought it was a birth defect or some heart condition. He was perfectly healthy, happy and fine,” Bauer said. “Three days later she called us and told us it was strychnine poisoning.

Bauer said she and her boyfriend, Jake, searched their yard and surrounding areas for the “green, grain-like pellets” described by Bjordahl. She said they found them in the Bennett’s yard.

“We were very upset thinking this is just out in the open. Who else could this have hurt or harmed?” Bauer said. “We knocked on her door to say, ‘Do you know that there is this chemical in your yard?’ And her husband was like, we use it for killing voles.

“I told them our dog had died and they were just very unapologetic about it and they still are to this day, which makes it that much harder,” she said.

Bauer said she ultimately decided to pursue legal action in the hopes that “she realizes she did something wrong and will, maybe, think twice about doing it in the future.”

“Not only was she endangering people who live with her or if she ever has animals, she is engaging people around her,” Bauer said.

Bauer now has a new vizsla in her life, named Archie, who happens to have the same parents as Moab.

“Ever since we have gotten him he is the best and he has really helped me a lot. I was just really heartbroken. He is the sweetest dog and he reminds us a lot of Moab,” Bauer said.


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