Man charged with animal cruelty says dog's disposal part of ritual

by: Rachel Stockman Updated:

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Police say a Lawrenceville man is facing animal cruelty charges for leaving a dog to suffocate in a hot car, wrapping it in a garbage bag, and then tossing it in a lake.

Channel 2's Rachel Stockman spoke to 49-year-old Benjamin Hafer at his home. He told her Gwinnett police are wrong about the allegations, and that he didn’t mean to hurt his black pitbull, Bruno.

“(Bruno) didn’t come out when I opened the doors, and I was in a big rush. About two hours later, I realized he was missing,” Hafer said.

At some point, Hafer said he disposed Bruno’s body in a lake behind his house, calling his actions part of a religious ritual.

“We give up bodies of humans, as well as animals, back to nature,” Hafer said.

On Monday night, Stockman saw several animals inside of Hafer's home. He said he's rescued many dogs that were abandoned.

Stockman said animal control had previously heard allegations about Hafer's misconduct toward dogs, but "There was no arrest or report generated"  according to Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Ed Ritter.

“I would never execute a dog. I would never torture a dog,” Hafer said.

Hafer insists that he loved Bruno.

"I'm saying that I would give up my life for that dog. I have a house full of dogs," Hafer said.


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