Pausing to smile and lick his lips in satisfaction for the benefit of the video camera, a 24-year-old Princeton, Minn., man dragged his live-in girlfriend’s dog in front of the lens, body-slammed the modest-sized husky on a concrete garage floor and beat the pet before taking him outside and fatally shooting the animal, according to charges.
Anthony R. Sather was charged Wednesday in Sherburne County District Court with felony animal torture, with many of the allegations based on three videos that Sather’s girlfriend found on his computer showing the assault by the 150-pound defendant in October upon Draco, a 3- to 4-year-old Shiba Inu husky, a breed that typically tops out at about 22 pounds.
Sather, who is also charged with two felony drug possession counts as part of the torture investigation, was arrested Monday and remains jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail ahead of a Jan. 28 hearing.
“The torture, it shocks the conscience,” Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Fildes said Thursday. “[The video] was extremely difficult to watch.”
Fildes said he and his colleagues in law enforcement “see things that we don’t want to see all the time, and this was just horrible.”
Within days of Draco’s death, Andrea M. Godfrey posted a memorial on YouTube to her pet, showing him playing about, having his belly rubbed and snuggling with her in bed. “When I was sad you were there,” the nearly 4-minute video noted to the echoes of Avril Lavigne’s “Keep Holding On.”
According to the criminal complaint:
Sather’s girlfriend, Godfrey, 21, told authorities that a citizen alerted her in October to Draco being dead in a ditch on County Road 1, just south of where Sather and Godfrey lived with his mother. Godfrey saw a bullet wound.
Godfrey said Sather surmised that the dog with the brownish-blond coat was probably mistaken for a coyote and shot.
In mid-December, Godfrey searched Sather’s computer in the home and found three videos showing Draco’s violent demise at the hands of a seemingly satisfied Sather. She duplicated the videos on her cellphone and provided them to a sheriff’s deputy.
The first video shows Sather activate the camera, close the garage door and drag the dog from the kennel for a beating.
Sather punched the dog in the head several times, lifted the animal over his head and slammed “it down on the concrete floor multiple times,” the complaint read.
Sather added in a few kicks to Draco and thwarted the pet’s repeated efforts to run away, dragging the yelping animal back before the camera to continue an assault that left “large amounts of blood on the floor.”
Sather closed out the video by moving close to the camera, smiling and saying, “This ain’t done yet.” He then licked his lips.
A second video showed Sather kicking the dog. It’s in the third video that Draco’s death was recorded. Sather held a silver pistol, the dog prone in a patch of grass. Sather was yelling and pointing the gun at Draco.
“Gunshots are heard,” the complaint read, suggesting that the animal’s actual moment of death was not recorded visually.
Sheriff’s investigators searched Sather’s bedroom, and he directed them to his nightstand. Inside was the pistol seen in the third video.
Also in the nightstand were 300 Valium pills. Investigators also recovered about 3.5 ounces of marijuana.
Sather’s criminal history in Minnesota includes a drug possession conviction in January 2013 as well as an underage drinking violation. His driving record includes many convictions for speeding, at times reaching 90 miles per hour on a highway and 66 mph in a residential area. He’s also been caught three times for driving with a suspended license.
A Facebook page titled "Justice for Draco" was born this week and quickly gathered more than 4,600 likes: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-For-Draco/1514307128832958 .