The Iowa Court of Appeals has thrown out the conviction of a Davenport man in an animal cruelty case. Zachary Meerdink was found guilty of animal torture in April of 2012 after the puppy his girlfriend had given him was found dead by police in the yard of their apartment.
The girlfriend had called police and told them Meerdink left the apartment with the dog after telling her he had to clean up a mess the dog made. She says he came back carrying a baseball bat and without the dog.
The court information showed prior to its death, the dog had bitten Meerdink and one of the girlfriend’s kids and had not responded to attempts to train it to not bite or go the bathroom where it shouldn’t. Meerdink appealed his conviction based on the definition of “aggravated cruelty” used to convict him that says the action is intended to cause extreme physical pain to the animal and was “done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.”
The Iowa Court of Appeals court said while it was proven Meerdink killed the dog, there was not any testimoney that it was a drawn out torture of the animal. The court said after reviewing the definition of the charge, there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction.
Justice Anurudha Vaitheswaran wrote at dissent in the 2-1 ruling. Veitheswaran said there was enough evidence to justify the conviction of Meerdink.
See the full ruling here: Meerdink ruling PDF