Utah woman convicted of animal cruelty after puppy dies of strychnine poisoning

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah - Six months after a puppy died less than an hour after ingesting strychnine, a Summit County woman has been convicted of aggravated cruelty to an animal.

Moab was a vizsla puppy, less than year old. In May, he was playing in his backyard with his owner, Katy Bauer, when he ran up an embankment and into a Nina Bennett’s yard. There is no fence, and Bauer says she was talking to Bennett at the time.

Minutes later, Moab collapsed.

"He just seized up in midair and face planted,” Bauer recalled.

Bauer rushed Moab to Powder Paws, a veterinary clinic less than three miles away.

"He was on his side, we couldn't get a heartbeat during CPR; we took some X-rays and his chest was full of blood and there was blood just pouring out of his tube,” said Dr. Kate Bjordahl, a veterinarian at Powder Paws.

Bauer said there was little time to try and rescue Moab.

"We're pretty sure that he died in the car,” she said.

The heartbreak of Moab’s death got worse two days later when Bauer got a call.

"Dr. Kate called us and said it was strychnine poisoning,” Bauer said.

Searching outside her house, Bauer found bright green pellets in Bennett’s yard. After confronting her neighbor, she worked with her vet to get the Summit County Sheriff’s office involved.

"What about the other dogs in the area, the moose, the deer, all the other wildlife in the area? What about the kids?” Bauer asked.

Bennett told investigators she was using the poison, called Omega Gopher Grain bait, to target voles. Per the label, the bait is supposed to buried underground rather than sprinkled above.

"This could have been someone's kid,” said Dr. Bjordahl.

On Tuesday, the case finally went to court. A judge ruled Nina Bennett guilty of aggravated cruelty to an animal, listed in court documents as a misdemeanor offense, and ordered her to pay $1,086 in restitution.