MARTINEZ -- A Walnut Creek man was ordered to trial Monday on a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge for killing his family's 10-month-old German shepherd with a hunting knife.
Todd Powers, 37, told authorities that he fatally stabbed the dog named Seven in April 2012 after owning it for three months because it had been nipping at his young children and had killed some backyard chickens.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office filed a felony, but the charge was reduced to misdemeanor on Monday at the conclusion of Powers' preliminary hearing.
Judge Mary Ann O'Malley said she understood why Powers thought he needed to get rid of the dog to protect his children, but he should not have stabbed and killed it. The family failed to train the young dog and could have easily given it up to a shelter.
Still, O'Malley said she didn't consider the act felonious. It was clear from the evidence that Powers took no pleasure in killing the animal, she said, and when he was questioned by authorities, he owned up to his actions.
"He felt he had no other choice. He thought he was doing the right thing," defense attorney David Larkin said.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Prosser argued that because the dog had suffered pain, Powers should be tried for the felony charge. Prosser presented to the judge 35 letters from animal lovers organized by the local nonprofit Voices for Pets calling for Powers to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Powers could be sentenced to County Jail or probation if convicted. His next court date is a pretrial conference Oct. 30.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.