JEFFERSON, Ohio - One step onto Steve and Linda Richards' 100-acre property and you can see who they've devoted their life to. Horses, pigs and turkeys call this part of Jefferson, Ohio home.
"You know, we don't have any kids. She (my wife) was a deputy humane agent when I met her. That's what I married," said Steve Richards. The animals on their farm are beloved pets.
Now, scattered throughout the property are little reminders that two of their pets are gone.
"A big empty feeling, I had dogs my whole life," said Linda Richards.
Linda Richards said her two dogs were playing outside Sunday. There was Bugle, a beagle puppy that she rescued four months ago.
"He'd come running, his tail would be wagging so hard his whole butt would shake," said Richards. She also had a 4-year-old Saint Bernard-mix named Violet. "She was the most friendly dog in the world. She was so happy to get a little brother, the beagle, when it showed up," she said.
Linda said the beagle chewed through Violet's collar Sunday and the two dogs started playing and running on the large property.
"They've always come back, they never even gone off the property," she said.
After looking for them for hours, Richards called the sheriff's office about two missing dogs.
"And they said two were shot," said Richards.
Richards went to identify her pets and ran into a witness. The woman said the dogs made it to a yard 2 miles away. She said the friendly pair started walking along the road when a man came out of his home with a gun and got into his car. The witness told deputies the man drove a short distance to where the dogs were walking.
"She heard shots and yelping, shots and yelping then she saw him go back in his driveway," said Richards.
Deputies investigated and Walter Pace was charged Thursday. The Richards said they don't know the man and their dogs were never on his property.
"We don't know what to do. We don't know how to feel. Nothing seems right," said Steve Richards.
Pace never returned my call for a comment. He's scheduled to be in court April 26 facing animal cruelty charges.
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