Hunter shot and skinned two missing dogs he believed to be coyotes

A hunter was charged with shooting, flaying and beheading the family’s beloved German Shepherd dogs last November (Image: AP)

A hunter is on trial after killing and skinning two German Shepherd dogs he mistook for coyotes last November.

Michael Konschak, a 61-year-old hunter from Carmel, New York, was charged with forgery and tampering with evidence, as well as misdemeanors of illegal hunting and resisting arrest.

The owners of the killed dogs and animal rights activists hope that prosecutors will also charge him with animal abuse.

Erin Caviola of Ridgefield, Connecticut, said her 10-year-old German Shepherd dogs Cimo and Lieben went missing on November 18. They somehow escaped through the six-foot-high fence of their yard and fled into the surrounding woods.

Caviola believes the bear may have damaged the fence. The family runs an apiary in the backyard and they are convinced that a predator has tried to get into their hives.

The family began plastering the neighborhood with missing dog posters and working with local animal control to help locate the dogs.

“We would drop everything as soon as we were given a possible observation and run to the scene, only to be disappointed,” Caviola wrote in a victim impact statement that was later read to the judge. “We drove home frustrated, crying, feeling like we had failed our innocent dogs who loved us unconditionally.”

Nearly a month later, a stranger contacted Caviola and told her he believed the man had posted photos of their dogs on Facebook – shot, flayed and decapitated.

Caviola looked at the photos and confirmed that they were Cimo and Lieben. She immediately called the police to start an investigation.

The man who posted the photos on December 11, Michael Konschak, was hunting on a neighbor’s property on November 18 when he shot the dogs with a crossbow.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection eventually took over the case, and prosecutors filed charges against him on January 10. On January 18, additional charges were filed against him when investigators realized he had falsified hunting registration documents needed in the state.

The prosecution also charged him with attempting to conceal evidence. In a post on, Caviola said the hunter first tried to take the dogs to a taxidermist who dismissed him.

He then “ordered their remains scattered across Connecticut and New York State,” said Caviola. Although the family recovered most of their remains, they say the hunter still hasn’t returned the dogs’ heads.

Konschak argued that the deaths were accidental and applied for accelerated rehabilitation – a program for first-time offenders where his charges would be cleared upon completion.

Konschak’s first court hearing took place on Wednesday in a packed courtroom in Danbury. Animal rights supporters and advocates also protested with signs outside the courthouse.

The hunter apologized to the family and claimed that he had mistaken the dogs for coyotes when shooting the dogs. “Please know that it was never my intention to harm the victims’ pets,” Konschak told the judge.

Prosecutors, however, argued that there were inconsistencies in the hunter’s account. They argued that he should have known right away that the animals were pets, as Cimo had been neutered and Lieben had a hysterectomy scar.

Ultimately, a judge at the Danbury High Court denied Konschak’s request. He is due back in court on April 12 when he makes a formal request.

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