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Man who slit dog's throat threatened to do same to Wadena woman in 2006

A man wanted in Otter Tail County for slitting a dog's throat has a history of violence in Wadena County, including a conviction for threatening to slit a woman's throat.

Benjamin James Stavaas, 23, of Battle Lake, faces six animal cruelty crimes in Otter Tail County for allegedly cutting his own German shepherd-pit bull mix dog's throat. Stavaas originally told authorities the dog, Star, had been hit by a car and he slit the throat to put the animal out of its misery.

But Star was found and brought back to life by Battle Lake Veterinary Clinic, which described the dog as "bright, alert, responsive" and with normal locomotion, all inconsistent with Stavaas' story of the dog being hit. Under questioning at the Perham Police Department, Stavaas allegedly changed his story and admitted slitting the dog's throat because he was mad the dog was chasing cars. Stavaas cut a 6-7 inch gash the shape of a Y in the dog's throat. He was set to appear on two felony, two gross misdemeanor and two misdemeanor counts of animal torture and animal cruelty on Monday, July 26, but failed to show up for court. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Stavaas also has a conviction for stealing a car in 2005 in Wadena, and a 2006 charge of domestic assault and terroristic threats. On Feb. 3, 2006, Stavaas struck and choked a woman and said he was going to kill her. He threatened to "slit her throat," according to court documents.

There were 20 letters in Stavaas' court file asking the court to impose harsh penalties for the animal torture and cruelty, including requests for the judge to impose the maximum penalty.