Ricky Lee Knowles Beat Neighbor’s Golden Retriever with Hatchet, Gets 6 Months in Jail

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

On Monday, Ricky Lee Knowles, 55, of Orting, Washington, was sentenced to six months in jail for attacking his neighbor’s Golden Retriever, Kona, with a hatchet and trying to strangle it with wire after luring it into his yard in March 2012. Knowles is also banned from owning pets or having any animals in his house, the Seattle Times reports.

Knowles was also ordered to pay restitution and court fees totaling close to $7,000. This includes Kona’s vet bill, which reached $5,000, according to the Bellingham News Tribune. Upon release from jail, Knowles, will be placed on an electronic home-monitoring system for an additional 6 months, followed by at least 2 years of counseling with a bi-annual check up

Ricky Lee Knowles was arrested March 20, 2012, after police found the three-year-old Golden Retriever, owned by Knowles neighbor, Sam Hokanson, tied to a pole in Knowles’ garage on Williams Street Northwest. Knowles had lured the Golden Retriever into his yard and tried to feed it rat poison, according to reports.

He then attempted to strangle the dog with a wire. When he was not successful in killing Kona, he beat the helpless dog in the head with a hatchet. Kona suffered a crushed skull, broken jaw, and blood-filled eyes, but he survived the attack because a neighbor heard him crying and yelping in pain and called 911.

When officers arrived, they found Kona still tied to the pole and bleeding from severe wounds to his neck and head.

Animal control officers who rescued the gentle dog had to cut a piece of wire matted with dog hair from around the animal’s neck, according to reports. They found blood-splattered cutting tools, a hammer, dog treats and a bloody garbage can when they served a search warrant at Knowles’ home after his arrest.

Deputy prosecuting attorney Dione Hauger said the judge’s decision “was based on the brutality of the actual crime. It was based on the thought and premeditation that went into it. And it was based on the fact that this was a fairly vulnerable victim,” she told reporters.

Knowles did not say why he attacked the dog, but Kona’s owners recalled that Knowles had complained about the dog barking. The two men had spoken and Hokanson thought they had come to an agreement.

Kona's family moved out of the neighborhood shortly after the attack, but returned Monday, September 17, to attend the hearing, according to the Kona’s owner told the judge how thisattack had affected Kona and his family and said he wanted Knowles to explain why he did this. “He had my number. Why didn’t he call me if my dog was barking?” he asked.

During the sentencing, Knowles apologized to the dog’s owners, "I just want to tell Kona and his family [that] I'm really sorry," Knowles said. Knowles stated that he was suffering from stress and snapped at the time of the attack. "I had no premeditation. I just couldn't take the noise any longer. He was barking and I just snapped. I can't explain it," he said.

Knowles had first pleaded guilty in July to first-degree animal cruelty and requested no jail time, the Seattle Times reported. Deputy prosecuting attorney Dione Hauger had asked for the maximum sentence of 12-months because of the particularly malicious and violent nature of the attack on Kona.

 Animal cruelty is a sad and particularly offensive crime,” stated prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “While we recommended a longer sentence than was imposed, the important thing is that Mr. Knowles has been held accountable for his crime.”

“If it were not for Kona’s neighbor who called 911, Kona would have succumbed to this attack,” Tracy Campion of reminds us.”

If you witness or have knowledge of any act of animal cruelty or hear an animal in distress, immediately call 911.