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Battle Lake man accused of slitting dog's throat arrested in Colorado

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A 23-year-old Battle Lake man who was on the run after being accused of slitting his dog's throat was arrested Wednesday in Colorado on other charges, authorities said.

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An arrest warrant was issued in July for Benjamin Stavaas when he failed to appear at a court date on the six charges of animal cruelty, two of which are felonies.

Court records allege that he admitted to knifing Star, his German shepherd mix, and leaving her to die in mid-June. He was angry at the dog for running after a car, he told investigators.

Star was found a week later after wandering into a yard. The dog's throat was surgically repaired before she was taken in by an area animal shelter.

Sgt. Al Frank of the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office said Stavaas was picked up at 2 a.m. in Golden, Colo., and will face extradition back to Minnesota after the local charges are handled.

"We'll be looking at bringing him back there," Frank said.

When Stavaas will return to Fergus Falls on the Otter Tail County charges depends on how the Colorado case proceeds, he said.

Inmate records at the jail in Jefferson County (Colo.) show Stavaas was arrested by city police in Golden on suspicion of burglary, theft and criminal mischief.

He's being held on $5,000 bail on those charges, but he is also being held as a fugitive and therefore is not eligible for bail, according to jail records.

In addition to the Otter Tail County warrant, he's wanted on a warrant out of Wadena County (Minn.) connected to convictions in 2006 for terroristic threats and domestic assault. He is on probation for the 2006 offenses.

Stavaas' case garnered interest from area animal groups, such as Otter Tail County's Humane Society.

Laura Rovang, a Humane Society employee, said Star is at a shelter awaiting adoption. She said shelter workers are pleased that Stavaas has been arrested.

"We're all happy he's in custody and will be brought to justice for what he's done," she said.

The manager of the Humane Society's shelter inaccurately told several news outlets in November that Stavaas was detained and released in Denver.

Authorities later said a woman who was suspected of traveling with Stavaas was questioned after her car was towed in Denver, but she wouldn't cooperate in locating Stavaas.

The shelter had received the false information from a private investigator hired by an anonymous person to track down Stavaas.

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