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Rich County man sues neighbor for killing his dog

Published August 31, 2013 10:17 am

Courts • Man alleges deputy OK'd action after dog killed duck.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Rich County man is suing his neighbor for allegedly killing his dog — a punishment the neighbor felt was appropriate because the dog had killed one of his ducks.

Robert Anderson filed the suit Friday in U.S. District Court, alleging that his neighbor, Benjamin Negus, shot and killed his white husky in January 2012 after a now-retired Rich County sheriff's deputy gave him the green light. That former deputy, Dennis Salzetti, was also named as a defendant in the suit along with Rich County, the sheriff's office and Rich County Sheriff Dale Stacey.

The suit alleges that Negus came home from church on Jan. 15, 2012, to find Anderson's dog with one of his son's ducks dead in its mouth. At the time, there was no leash ordinance for the Garden City neighborhood, Anderson's complaint states.

Negus allegedly knew whose dog it was but did not contact Anderson. Instead, Negus lured the dog into the bed of his pickup and found Salzetti, who was on duty, at a nearby gas station to ask him if he had the right to kill the dog, the suit says.

"Deputy Salzetti confirmed to Mr. Negus that he had full authority to kill the animal," the suit reads.

Anderson alleges that Negus then took the dog to an unknown location and shot it once in the stomach and once in the head. Salzetti, meanwhile, informed Anderson that his dog had been shot and killed.

According to the suit, neither defendant told Anderson where his dog's body was. It wasn't until a couple of days later, when Negus allegedly dumped the carcass on the road outside Anderson's property, that Anderson saw his dog's body.

State law does allow the killing of a dog if it is "attacking domestic fowls," but Anderson alleges Negus had no right to kill the dog since it was no longer in the process of attacking his ducks.

"In the present case, the dog was in the back of Mr. Negus' pickup, peaceful and quiet, up until the time Negus summarily executed her," the complaint reads.

The suit also accuses Salzetti of failing to get Anderson's side of the story before giving Negus permission to kill the dog. Even so, the suit states, Salzetti did not have the right to give legal advice to Negus in the first place.

Anderson also accused the sheriff's office of pursuing misdemeanor charges against him after he reported Salzetti to his superiors "in an apparent attempt to silence [Anderson] from his pursuit of justice."

Anderson was charged and eventually acquitted of one class B misdemeanor count of allowing a vicious animal to go at large, according to court records.

In the suit, Anderson asks for $10,000 in damages for the loss of his dog as well as unspecified punitive damages related to allegations of civil conspiracy and emotional distress. Anderson is represented by attorney Steven Wuthrich of Montpelier, Idaho.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KimballBennion