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Cottage Grove man charged with torturing dog; claimed he killed it with machete

A Cottage Grove man faces felony animal torture and cruelty charges after he said he killed his dog over a dispute about where the animal should be kept.

George R. Nichols, 37, was charged in Washington County District Court in connection with the death of a miniature pinscher that Nichols told a relative he had killed with a machete. The severely injured dog was found pinned under a toppled portable toilet and was later euthanized.

Nichols told police the dog was his property, he could do whatever he wanted with the property and that he had killed chickens with a machete while growing up on a farm, according to the criminal complaint filed June 24.

Cottage Grove police were called June 21 by Nichols’ sister, who reported that her brother was acting strangely and that they had argued about where the dog, named Jack, should be kept during the day. Nichols had been staying at his sister’s home, but she wanted him to leave.

During their argument, Nichols took the dog and left in his truck. He returned 15-20 minutes later without the dog and said he had taken care of it.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police found Nichols at his sister’s home and told him he had to leave. He left on a three-wheel bike because his driver’s license was restricted.

Meanwhile, St. Paul Park police responded to a report of an injured animal on Grey Cloud Island. A passerby found the dog pinned beneath a portable toilet that had been knocked on its side.

The dog was brought to Park Grove Pet Hospital but then was transported to Oakdale Emergency Animal Hospital. It had a skull fracture, large laceration on its head, a fractured jawbone and cerebral hemorrhage. A veterinarian had to euthanize it.

Police later found Nichols. He told officers he had killed the dog to settle the argument with his sister. He was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty and booked into the Washington County jail.

The formal charges against him include animal torture and animal cruelty. The torture charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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