‘This is horrific.’ Ridgefield woman says dogs were shot, beheaded and skinned

Erin Caviola said on Nov. 18, a hunter from Putnam County, NY shot and killed the dogs in the woods off Topcrest Lane on property that borders hers.

Marissa Alter

Feb 28, 2023, 12:57 AM

Updated 456 days ago


Erin Caviola knows losing a pet is always hard, but the deaths of German shepherds Cimo and Lieben go beyond that.
She said on Nov. 18, a hunter from Putnam County, NY shot and killed the dogs in the woods off Topcrest Lane on property that borders hers — something Caviola and her family didn’t learn for another month.
“This is horrific. It has been absolutely devastating. We don't know how this can happen, to look at these two beautiful animals and do that,” Caviola, of Ridgefield, told News 12.
Caviola explained that morning, her husband let the dogs out as usual since there’s a six-foot fence around their land. But this time, Cimo and Lieben didn’t return.
“In the middle of the night, we had a bear break down part of our fence because we have beehives on our property, and the dogs must've run out,” she said.
Ridgefield Animal Control, friends, and family spent the next few weeks searching for Cimo and Lieben, following up on any possible sighting, according to Caviola.
Then on Dec. 12, Caviola said her family got a call from a good Samaritan who said a hunter had shared pictures of the dogs shot to death, then skinned and beheaded. The caller said the hunter had gone to a taxidermist to get the animals’ hides tanned but was turned away because they were dogs, according to Caviola.
“We confirmed that was them and from that moment on is when an investigation started,” she told News 12.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection took over the case from police and arrested Mike Konschak. DEEP told News 12 it could not comment on the case and referred us to the state judicial website for further information. Konschak’s case is currently sealed because he's applied for accelerated rehabilitation — a pre-trial probation program that allows first-time offenders to have their criminal charges dropped if completed successfully. According to Caviola, Konschak is charged with forgery, evidence tampering, and violations of hunting regulations.
"There is a sealing order on this file. Due to that, I'm unable to comment at this time," said Attorney Brian Romano, who represents Konschak.
Konschak is due in court March 1, where a judge could decide on accelerated rehabilitation. Caviola started a change.org petition for Konschak to be denied accelerated rehabilitation and have animal cruelty charges added. By Monday evening, it had more than 15,000 signatures.
“It’s been very stressful and nothing that we would want any family to go through, which is really why we would like to get this out,” Caviola explained.
Cimo and Lieben were more than just pets. They were part of the family, she said.
“Super smart, very affectionate,” Caviola recalled. “They were very well trained and friendly and just absolute joy that we had in our lives.”
News 12 went to the area where the dogs were killed. Through the woods, our cameras saw a tent and a feeder, which a neighbor said were Konschak’s. The property owner told News 12 she’s given Konschak permission to hunt in her woods for about 20 years. She said he comes and goes during hunting season, and she doesn’t keep tabs on him.

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