A 34-year-old man in Palo Cedro, California has been accused of abducting his ex-girlfriend’s dog, rendering the pet dog’s flesh into a cooked meal and then feeding it to the unsuspecting woman for dinner. Ryan Eddy Watenpaugh was arrested last week on not just animal cruelty charges related to the twisted dinner menu, but also on charges related to stalking, domestic violence and false imprisonment. He remains in custody at the Shasta County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail and may face additional charges regarding the discovery of an AK-47 assault rifle found in his residence.
According to the police, the girlfriend stated that boyfriend Watenpaugh physically attacked her in August of this year causing her to flee from her apartment. When she returned home, she discovered that Watenpaugh had left the residence and that her little Pomeranian dog, “Bear” was missing. In her statement, the woman described a relationship with a pattern of physical abuse and said that Watenpaugh had assaulted her several times during the months in which they were together causing abrasions and bruises. She also accused Watenpaugh of stalking her and holding her against her will on at least two occasions.
Although her pet dog Bear remained missing, the woman apparently had a change of heart towards Watenpaugh and reconciled with him earlier this month. In what was reportedly supposed to be a romantic dinner, Watenpaugh cooked and served up a meat dish to his girlfriend. Later in the week, Watenpaugh apparently sent his girlfriend a twisted text in which, in reference to the meal he had made for her, he asked her “how her dog tasted.”
The reconciliation was short-lived and the two separated. However, Watenpaugh continued to taunt the woman with texts about her dog and the meal. Some of his texts were about his plans to dispose of the remaining parts of the Pomeranian that he had not cooked.
After midnight on Tuesday of last week, the woman heard a truck pull up in front of her apartment and witnessed Watenpaugh walking up to the porch and leaving a bag by the door before running back to his vehicle. Inside the bag were two small dog paws that the woman claims are from her pet dog Bear. Investigators obtained a warrant for Watenpaugh and on Thursday of last week arrested him during a traffic stop on Silver Bridge Road.
Although Watenbaugh admits that he sent the twisted texts to his ex-girlfriend, he denies that he abducted, killed, cooked and then served her dog Bear to her for dinner. He has also admitted that he put the bag containing the two dog paws on her front porch but claims he did it just to scare her and that the dog paws are from a different dog. He further claims the statements that he made that he killed the woman’s dog and fed it to her were just a “joke.”
By all accounts, this case is one that involves domestic abuse and the dog dinner lends an air of sensation to the media reports. However, even if Watenbaugh did kill his ex-girlfriend’s Pomeranian and then tricked the woman into eating the pet for dinner, the charges of domestic violence, stalking and false imprisonment are the most significant charges against him. In addition, even if the paws left on the front porch were not from Bear, the animal cruelty charges may still apply as the paws were clearly severed from a dog. One thing is certain, the small Northern California garden community of Palo Cedro, with a population of less than 1,500 is buzzing with shocked dismay at the twisted details of the story.
By Alana Marie Burke