Zachary Cook already had a history of abusing dogs when he was caught entering his girlfriend’s apartment without permission and killing her dog earlier this year, according to Missouri prosecutors.
The woman arrived home on January 14 after working all night and discovered her dog dead. When she reviewed the video footage from her Ring doorbell camera, she saw her boyfriend who was a Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy entering the apartment the night before while she was at work by using a code to open the door.
The woman had given Cook the code to open the door to enter the apartment but she never gave him permission to enter her home when she was not there, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
The camera recorded the dog making high-pitch whining and crying noises while he was inside. The dog then went silent after Cook was seen leaving the apartment.
The woman took the dog’s body to a specialist for an autopsy who determined the dog had been abused with multiple broken ribs and lacerations to the liver as well as blood in the dog’s abdominal cavity.
The woman said she already had her suspicions because her dog would become afraid whenever Cook was around, whining and hiding and urinating uncontrollably. She had also caught him inside her apartment without permission a month earlier and noticed that her dog’s eyes were red.
Cook told her he had spanked the dog because it had urinated on the floor, then given the dog a bath so soap probably got into its eyes but the woman was worried the dog had a hemorrhage in its eyes, according to local media which reviewed the court records.
The woman called Springfield police who searched through Cook’s phone and discovered online searches he had made about the Missouri animal abuse statute and inquiring whether shock could kill a dog.
A Missouri judge granted an order of protection to the woman on February 14, prohibiting Cook to come within 500 feet of her, according to online court records.
But a warrant for his arrest on charges of burglary and animal abuse was not issued until March 16, records indicate. That was when the 24-year-old man resigned from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, a previous girlfriend suspected Cook had killed her dog after it died under “suspicious circumstances” but charges were never filed in that case.
Prosecutors say that Cook has a history of this type of behavior. In court documents asking that Cook be held in jail as the case moves forward, they wrote that Cook’s previous girlfriend’s dog had also died under suspicious circumstances and she believed Cook was responsible, though it does not appear Cook was ever charged.
The Greene County Prosecutor’s Office wrote in court filings that animal abuse is a form of domestic violence. They cited a survey that 71 percent of battered women reported that their partner had hurt or killed one or more of their pets.
“Offenders may physically harm the animal to psychologically punish the victim or to remind the victim that the abuser can assert physical force to maintain dominance and control,” prosecutors wrote.
And that raises the question as to whether Cook had been protected by police in the previous case because it was only in December 2019 that he had been hired by the Kansas State Highway Patrol but then quietly became a Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy at some point thereafter.
That not only means Cook most likely took a pay cut but also had to attend the police academy in Missouri in order to be certified as a law enforcement officer in that state, even though he had already done so in Kansas less than three years ago. His Linkedin page, in fact, still lists him as a Kansas state trooper.
The starting salary for a Kansas state trooper is $21.65-an-hour which comes out to almost $44,000-a-year.
And while there is no salary listed for Cook in Missouri, there are various salaries listed for several other Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies and they all make less than that, including one deputy who has obtained the rank of colonel so it’s doubtful if Cook was being paid more than that.
So let’s not be surprised if it turns out Cook had been allowed to resign from the Kansas State Highway Patrol to avoid animal abuse charges, only to re-surface in Missouri to do the same.
And Cook is hardly alone.
Last month we wrote about a former Virginia cop named Richard Chinappi III who was sentenced to a year in jail for torturing and killing his girlfriend’s dog in a drunken rage.
Also last month, a New York corrections officer was arrested on charges of killing his girlfriend’s dog.
Cook faces three counts of burglary and three counts of animal abuse, including a felony charge of torturing and/or mutilating an animal while it was still alive. He has pleaded not guilty and is out on bond. His next court date is April 12.