Pete Byers was preparing to leave for Pittsburgh when he noticed that his two dogs, Emmy and Bella, were missing. He started a search for them that would end in a grim discovery, but the results of which would eventually bring justice and hope to dog owners everywhere.
Byers' two dogs went running off into the nearby woods. When they didn't return promptly, Byers and a couple of friends began to comb through the trees, calling for the dogs. They ran into some hunters who said they heard gunshots and a dog yelping.
The search party crossed paths with a hunter, Michael Chedester, who was emerging from the woods. Chedester told them he heard the shots, too, then gave the men false information to buy himself time to cover for his actions. Chedester had, in fact, shot and killed the two dogs, and he used this extra time to cover up their bodies and remove their collars.
A neighboring farmer told Byers where he heard the shots come from, and that information led Byers to Chedester's tree stand. There, Byers found the bodies of his beloved canine companions, hidden under a brush pile. Byers told news reporters that “I asked him, did you kill my dogs man, I want to know so I can bury them. Meanwhile he keeps eyeing this new brush pile that’s new and fresh. Then he kind of looks down his nose at me and says ‘Yeah, I killed your dogs. You want me to buy you two new ones? I’ll buy you two new dogs.’”
Before police arrived, Chedester told Byers that he shot the dogs because he “just wanted to shoot something."
Byers took to Facebook to tell his story, and it quickly went viral. That's when justice started coming for Michael Chedester. First, people informed his employer, American Electric Power Ohio, of what he had done. They promptly fired him. Then, the state of Ohio came for him.
Ohio recently passed Goddard's Law, which makes casting serious physical harm to an animal a fifth-degree felony charge. Much of Goddard's Law references a Northeastern University study that found "a person who has committed abuse against an animal is five times more likely to commit violence against people." The maximum sentence is six to twelve months in jail and a $2500 fine.
Chedester was charged with this felony and had his day in court in May. He was the first person charged under the new Goddard's Law. The judge imposed a sentence of six months in county jail, community service or donation to an animal shelter, and restitution to Byers for the loss of his dogs. Additionally, Chedester will have three years of probation after serving his sentence and has lost his right to own a gun.
Any violation of these orders will send Chedester back to prison for two years.
Byers has been grateful for the outpouring of support he has received from people all over the world. “I can’t go anywhere without somebody saying I’m sorry for what he did to your dogs or I’m sorry for what happened to your pets. Everybody has a pet. Everybody can relate. I’m just sorry that it was mine that got killed," Byers said.
To bring something positive out of the loss of Emmy and Bella, Byers announced that he has teamed up with the Belmont County Animal Shelter to create a Memorial Fund for Emmy and Bella. All proceeds from this fund will be used for animals at the shelter.
Byers said, "We are incredibly grateful and touched by this wonderful chance to give back. We know that Emmy and Bella's memories will live on in the animals this fund helps. We could not possibly think of a better way to immortalize our beautiful, sweet girls."
As tragic as Emmy and Bella's story is, it also shows that justice can occur, and negatives can become positives as the dogs' story will live on to help other dogs in need. Please share this important story with your friends and family on Facebook.