A hunter accused of shooting and killing an Ohio man’s two beloved dogs is facing criminal charges — and he’s lost his job as well.
According to court records, Michael Chedester, of St. Clairsville, faces two felony counts of knowingly causing serious physical harm to a companion animal, according to the Intelligencer, the newspaper in nearby Wheeling, West Virginia.
The charges are the first of their kind under a recently signed Ohio law that allows felony counts for harm to a pet.
Pete Byers, the owner of the dogs, first posted about the situation on Monday; his story quickly spread on social media.
Byers told television station WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio, that he was getting ready to head to Pittsburgh with his dogs — Bella and Emmy — for a work trip when they disappeared.
A search group assembled and eventually found Chedester, who was hunting from a tree stand in the area. Byers said he asked Chedester if he killed the dogs.
The hunter admitted to shooting them and offered to “buy him two new ones,” Byers said.
Byers said he found his dogs in a brush pile near the tree stand after spotting Emmy’s paw sticking out from under the logs. Chedester told authorities that the dogs had chased a deer past his stand at least three times, according to WTOV. The third time, he said, they stopped under his stand.
Chedester then allegedly shot one of the dogs. Belmont County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Fry said he believes the bullet that hit that dog also hit the second dog. Then Chedester allegedly shot the second dog.
The charges were filed Wednesday; his arraignment is set for Dec. 8.
Chedester has also been fired from his forestry supervisor job with a local utility, American Electric Power, WTOV reports.
A statement from AEP says: “AEP expects the highest level of conduct from our employees, both on the job and outside of work. We are saddened by the situation that unfolded this week involving an off-duty AEP Ohio employee and the death of the two dogs. This individual is no longer employed by AEP.”