of the last sentence.

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — A hunter who told authorities he killed and skinned what he thought were two coyotes, but later discovered they were a Connecticut family’s pet German shepherds, has been criminally charged.

During a hearing in Danbury Superior Court on Wednesday that drew dozens of people including the dogs’ owners and animal rights advocates, Michael Konschak, 61, of Carmel, New York, said he was ashamed of what he did.

“Please know that it was never my intent that morning to harm the victims’ pets,” he said.

Police with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection arrested Konschak in February on charges including tampering with evidence, forgery, interfering with a law enforcement officer and hunting-related violations.

Animal rights advocates have urged authorities to add animal cruelty charges. Danbury State’s Attorney David Applegate said the case is still being investigated and that more charges are possible.

Konschak, whose lawyer called the dogs’ deaths an accident, applied for a special probation program that could have resulted in the charges being erased, but a judge rejected that request Wednesday.

Erin Caviola, of Ridgefield, said she and her family searched for their dogs for weeks and posted flyers after they went missing, and that they are heartbroken about what happened to them. She said the dogs’ heads were removed and remain missing.

“We live with the emotional pain as we think about what they felt in their final moments lying beside each other dying,” she said.

In an arrest warrant affidavit, police said Konschak killed the dogs with a crossbow on Nov. 18 after they escaped from a Ridgefield family’s yard. The family said the dogs — Lieben, a female, and Cimo, a male, both 10 years old — got out because a fence was damaged, possibly by a bear.

Konschak was hunting deer in nearby property and said he killed what he thought were two coyotes, the affidavit said. His lawyer, Brian Romano, said Konschak skinned the animals for their pelts. The hunting and trapping of coyotes is legal in Connecticut.

But Applegate, the prosecutor, alleged there were inconsistencies in Konschak’s story questioned how he could not see that the animals were dogs before skinning them.

Konschak is due back in court next month.

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