Ricky Lee Knowles of Orting, Washington opened his neighbor’s fence last week and lured a Golden Retriever, Kona, out of the back yard. Knowles then tied the 3-year-old dog up in his garage and savagely beat Kona to near death with a hatchet.
Neighbors heard the dog screaming and called police. When officers arrived, a resident told them that he had seen Ricky Lee Knowles lead neighbor Sam Hokanson’s dog into his garage.
When police looked through Knowles’s garage window, they saw a golden retriever tied to a post, bleeding profusely from the head and neck. A bloody pair of pants lay on the floor near the dog.
Officers went around the home calling for Knowles to come out, and pounded on the doors. Eventually, Knowles came outside.
Police notified the Hokansons of what happened and they rushed Kona to the Sumner Veterinary Hospital. When Kona arrived at the vet’s office, his eyes were swollen shut and he was only able to walk a few steps at a time.
In addition to treating Kona’s severe injuries; a crushed skull, broken jaw and blood-filled eyes, veterinarian Dr. Mihai Aluas found a length of wire that had to be cut from around the dog’s neck. The vet removed bone fragments from Kona’s head and inserted a drainage tube.
Golden Retrievers are known for being gentle family dogs, and Kona is no exception. Hokanson doesn’t know what made his neighbor snap. The two men had argued about Kona barking, but that had been over a year ago, and Hokanson thought the problem had been solved.
Knowles was arrested and charged with first degree animal cruelty, theft, second-degree criminal trespass and taking, concealing, injuring or killing a pet or an animal.
Police obtained a warrant and searched the property where they found more blood-spattered evidence. In the back yard they bloody gloves, a bloody garbage can and dog treats, police said. A bloody hammer with dog hair on it was found next to a blood-spattered shed, and a nearby fire pit had a plastic cover that was coated with blood and dog hair. They believe that a hatchet was used to strike the dog repeatedly. Police also found rat poison with the treats.
Miraculously, Kona survived the attack and is recovering. The Hokanson’s other dog, Kyia, was not involved in the attack.
Knowles pled “not guilty” to all charges and was released on $20,000 bail and may not contact Hokanson. The state of Washington has felony animal cruelty laws, so Knowles could get up to five years and/or a $10,000 fine if he has a prior criminal record and is given the maximum penalty, but that is unlikely. The sentencing guidelines for a class C felony are 0-12 months.
Police were back at Knowles property on Saturday morning, where they removed firearms from his house.
Knowles’s pretrial is scheduled for April 5 in Pierce County court. This atrocity ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law! This man is a danger to everyone and clearly very disturbed. He needs to be punished before he harms others and not simply a slap on the wrist! To any who have studied serial murderers, animal torture and murders are very often a precursor to killing people and most often overlooked by the justice system.