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Humane Society of Utah calls dog's death in St. George 'a deplorable act'

ST. GEORGE — The Humane Society of Utah on Monday decried a confrontation between a small dog and its owner's neighbor last week that ultimately left the animal dead.

The incident from Friday afternoon is still under investigation by St. George police, who have said they are deliberating what charges to recommend to prosecutors. The department had no update on the case Monday.

“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 2-pound dog in such an extreme manner,” Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of Humane Society of Utah, said as part of a prepared statement. “We applaud the St. George Police Department for their due diligence in investigating this case and ask that the maximum charges be applied."

The Humane Society of Utah says the victim was a 6-year-old Yorkshire Terrier named Chewy. According to St. George police, Chewy was killed around 4:30 p.m. in the area of 2000 East and 500 North.

"A small dog entered the neighbor’s yard and approached the man, who was maintaining his landscaping," police said in a statement Friday. "The man swung a long-handled pruning (shear) at the dog when it approached him. The (shears) ended up striking the dog in the head, killing it instantly."

The agency added that "the circumstances were worsened by the fact that the incident was witnessed by the dog owner's juvenile daughter." The girl is 12 years old, according to the Humane Society of Utah.

Investigators are still sorting out what led to the confrontation.

"There are conflicting accounts of what the suspect was intending to do when he encountered the animal," St. George police said. "This conflict makes it more difficult to determine what the suspect intended to do when he encountered the dog. There are many factors which can give insight into his mind set, and therein lies the challenge. … The St. George Police Department does feel that this incident is significant and has had a significant impact on the children and family who own the dog."

No formal charges had been filed as of Monday. Police have not released the name of the man who allegedly killed the dog.