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Underwood man accused of slitting his dog's throat gets less than week in jail, probation

Benjamin Stavaas

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. - A 24-year-old Underwood man accused of slitting his own dog's throat will likely serve less than an additional week in jail and will be on supervised probation for two years on a conviction for felony animal mistreatment.

In a case that drew the attention of area animal supporters, authorities had accused Benjamin Stavaas of cutting the throat of Star, a German shepherd mix, in June 2010. He told officers he was angry at the dog for running after a car, court records alleged.

Stavaas offered an Alford plea on one of six charges he faced, not admitting his guilt but stipulating a jury would likely convict him.

In Otter Tail County District Court on Thursday, Judge Barbara Hanson sentenced Stavaas to a 17-month prison term stayed for the two years he will be on probation.

Stavaas was also given a one-year term in the county jail. But he had already served 239 days. Assuming he'll only serve two-thirds of the jail stint, a typical reduction in Minnesota on the basis of good conduct by an inmate, he'll serve five more days in jail.

Court records show he was also ordered to have a mental health assessment, in part to determine if he needs to attend anger management classes. He's also ordered to not have direct, unsupervised contact with animals while he is still on probation.