BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio — The hunter accused of shooting and killing a Belmont County man’s two beloved dogs now faces charges, and he’s lost his job.
According to court records, Michael Chedester, of St. Clairsville, faces two counts of cruelty to animals. His arraignment is set for Dec. 8.
The charges are the first of their kind in Belmont County under the newly-passed Goddard’s Law.
Pete Byers, the owner of the dogs named Bella and Emmy, first posted about the situation on Monday — and it quickly spread on social media.
Byers told WTOV that he was getting ready to head to Pittsburgh with his dogs for a work trip when they disappeared Monday.
A search group assembled and eventually found Chedester, who had a tree stand in the area. Byers said he asked Chedester if he killed the dogs. He said the hunter admitted to shooting them and offered to “buy him two new ones.”
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.
According to WTOV, Chedester told authorities that the dogs had chased a deer past his stand at least three times. The third time, he said, they stopped under his stand.
Chedester then allegedly shot one of the dogs. Belmont County Prosecutor 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.
WTOV reports that Chedester has also been fired from his forestry supervisor job with American Electric Power.
A statement from AEP to WTOV 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.”