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La Plata County man suspected of shooting, burning dogs

Father told law enforcement he and son argued the previous night
(Durango Herald file)

A La Plata County man is suspected of shooting three dogs and burning their corpses earlier this week north of Ignacio.

The incident was reported about 11 p.m. Wednesday in the 6600 block of County Road 510, in the Oxford area.

Trent Gruber, 35, has been arrested on suspicion of criminal mischief and aggravated animal cruelty, according to an arrest affidavit. He is suspected of killing three bullmastiffs valued at $5,000 each.

A supervisor for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office did not return a phone call Friday seeking information, including whether Gruber remains in custody.

According to the arrest affidavit, Gruber’s father, Michael Gruber, called law enforcement Wednesday night to report his son killed the dogs.

While speaking with dispatchers, the father said his son was leaving the house in a black Dodge 3500 dually with a trailer.

A Southern Ute Police Department officer located the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop on County Road 514, also near Oxford. A Sheriff’s Office deputy also responded to the traffic stop, and questioned Trent Gruber about the argument involving him and his father. Trent Gruber told the deputy that his father was upset with him because he did not approve of the way he handled the livestock on the property, according to the affidavit.

When asked to clarify, Trent Gruber said he “euthanized the dogs” with his firearm, according to the affidavit.

Law enforcement continued their response to the home. On arriving, they discovered a small fire behind the residence that appeared to contain dog remains.

At the house, the father told law enforcement he returned from work about 10 p.m. and found only one of his dogs. He noticed blood throughout three kennels, and that is when Trent Gruber told his father that he shot and killed three of the dogs.

Trent Gruber was living at the home, according to the affidavit. He had responsibilities, but caring for the animals was not one of them, the father told law enforcement.

The father said he and his son argued the previous evening, with the father saying they needed to do a better job of keeping the property clean, according to the affidavit. During the argument, Trent Gruber said, “Well maybe we need to start killing animals,” according to the affidavit.

Deputies found blood inside and outside the kennels. They also found what appeared to be burned remains of what appeared to be dogs in a smoldering fire.


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