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Dave Roepke, Published November 12 2010

Deputy: Reported contact with dog-knifing suspect false

A 23-year-old from Battle Lake, Minn., accused of slitting his dog’s throat has had no contact with Denver police, and if he had, he’d have been extradited, Otter Tail County officials say.

The Otter Tail County Humane Society told several news outlets on Thursday, including The Forum, that Stavaas had been picked up recently by Denver police.

Benjamin James Stavaas faces six animal cruelty and mistreatment charges linked to the alleged knifing in June, including two felonies. He missed a July 26 court date and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Ericka Stoltenberg, shelter manager for the Otter Tail County Humane Society, said a private investigator hired to help look for Stavaas told her he was detained in Denver but wasn’t brought back to Fergus Falls because the arrest warrant applied in neighboring states only.

That’s not true, said Lt. Matt McGuire of Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office.

McGuire said on Nov. 5 a detective with the sheriff’s office spoke with a woman who is thought to have left town with Stavaas. Her car was towed in Denver, and deputies were called because her car was flagged as being linked to Stavaas.

The Otter Tail detective told the woman to wait for Denver police to arrive, but when they did, she refused to cooperate, McGuire said.

McGuire said the Otter Tail County warrant applies nationwide, as does a Wadena County (Minn.), warrant connected to 2006 convictions for terroristic threats and domestic assault. Stavaas had been on probation for the earlier charges before absconding.

Stoltenberg wasn’t immediately available for comment this morning.

The case has attracted interest from animal supporters who have said they would like Stavaas, if he’s convicted, to be sentenced to the maximum two years in prison on the felonies.

Authorities allege the 23-year-old admitted he knifed Star, his German shepherd mix, after the dog angered him by running after a car.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535