CT family wants animal cruelty charges filed against man who killed, skinned their dogs

Kristin Thorne Image
Monday, June 5, 2023
Family wants animal cruelty charges filed against man who killed their dogs
A family in Connecticut wants animal cruelty charges lodged against a man who killed their two dogs while he was hunting. Kristin Thorne has the story.

CONNECTICUT (WABC) -- A family in Connecticut wants animal cruelty charges lodged against a man who killed their two dogs while he was hunting.

Michael Konschak, of Carmel, has already been charged with tampering with evidence, forging a hunting permission form and for harming domestic animals while hunting.

Konschak told police he thought the two dogs were coyotes when he killed them while bowhunting in Ridgefield last fall.

"They meant more to us than you could imagine," Erin Caviola, the dogs' owner, told Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne.

Caviola said Cimo and Leiben - both 9-year-old Czech Shepherds - got out of the family's fenced-in yard November 18. It's believed a bear had pulled down the fence, allowing the dogs to get out of the yard.

Caviola said at 9:30 a.m. she got a phone call from a neighbor who said she had spotted the dogs in the woods and it appeared they were headed back to Caviola's house. But, the dogs never arrived.

Caviola said everyday search parties went out looking for the dogs. The Caviola family also put the dogs' pictures all over social media.

According to Konschak's arrest warrant, on December 12, Caviola received a phone call from someone who pointed the finger at Konschak.

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There was a commotion in Tompkins Square Park on Sunday afternoon when a woman went on a hair-pulling rampage.

"He sent over two photos - one of Cimo dead and one of Leiben dead," Caviola said.

Konschak told police he shot the dogs because he thought they were coyotes and that after he shot one of them, the other came at him in an aggressive manner.

According to the arrest warrant, Konschak took the animals home and skinned them, but said the outcome was "unsatisfactory," so he discarded the pelts in the trash. He said he threw the rest of the animals' remains in the woods around where he killed them.

"This was brutal," Caviola said. "This was very disgusting."

Konschak later led to police to a trailhead along Sagamore Lake in Carmel and directed officers to skeletal remains of what appeared to be two dogs. According to police, he then took officers to Hortontown Road in Hopewell Junction and told police he discarded the dogs' skins there. Officers couldn't find the skins and it's believed animals carried them off.

According to the arrest warrant, while Konschak told police he threw the skins away November 18, a witness stated on December 3, Konschak sought to have the skins treated to preserve them. Police believe Konschak disposed of the dogs' pelts after he became aware of the investigation by the Ridgefield Police Department. Konschak is also being charged with interfering with an officer.

Police said Konschak also forged a signature on a hunting private land consent form. The owner of the property told police, Konschak had been hunting on her property near Topcrest Lane for 30 years.

According to Konschak's arrest warrant, when police showed the homeowner the required consent from which Konschak provided to police, the homeowner did not recognize her signature for the landowner signature.

The homeowner told police she had seen the two dogs in her yard the day they were killed and assumed they were coyotes. She said she observed one of them in an attack stance toward Konschak with one foot in front of the other and its tail down.

Eyewitness News attempted to speak with Konschak after a recent court hearing in Danbury. Neither he nor his lawyer would comment.

Caviola said she and her family would like to see prosecutors add animal cruelty charges against Konschak.

"We would like to honor them in giving them a type of justice, which would mean some of these charges being held," she said of Cimo and Leiben.

Charles Farfaglia - the court-appointed legal advocate for justice for the dogs - also told Eyewitness News he believes animal cruelty charges should be levied.

"I think that it sends a message that animal cruelty is extremely important charge to make in a case like this," he said.


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