Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Men accused of killing dog say it was an act of mercy

ST. PETERSBURG — Kenneth Frank and Robert Callahan don't deny that they suffocated Frank's ailing 11-year-old chihuahua last month.

But the men want people to know that their actions weren't inhumane or malicious.

"I never loved anything as much as that dog," Frank, 72, said. "And they're calling me an animal abuser. … It's just incredible."

Officials say an investigation is ongoing.

On Tuesday, both men were given notices to appear in court on a county animal cruelty charge, which carries a $143 fine.

In addition, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said it has referred its own charges of animal cruelty to the state attorney's office.

Both men give slightly different versions of what happened July 24 — the night Pee Pee, a 12-pound beige chihuahua, died.

Callahan, 50, says he had been telling Frank, who he had lived with for about six months, for weeks that he needed to euthanize Pee Pee.

But he said Frank became angry, even after local veterinarians said the dog didn't have much time to live.

Finally, he says, Frank woke him, asking for help.

"Ken said, 'Bob, would you please bring him in your room and put him down,' " Callahan said Wednesday.

Callahan, who said he used to be a dog groomer, said he held a plastic bag over the dog's head.

He says he stopped after about a minute.

"I was just trying to honor Ken's wishes," Callahan said. "I will regret it until the day I die."

Frank, however, told Pinellas sheriff's deputies he became concerned when he heard the dog whimper after about 20 minutes.

Both men agree about what happened next.

Frank took the dog, which was alive but unresponsive, and covered the dog's mouth with duct tape. He then placed a pillow over its head until it died.

"I held him in my arms," Frank said through tears Wednesday. "They called it animal abuse … my dog was dying."

Animal advocates said they often see people who want to end their pet's suffering.

But most people go about it a different way.

"This is pretty unusual," said John Hohenstern, a senior animal control officer for the county. "There are other ways to do it. They could've just brought the dog here."

The SPCA Tampa Bay, which exhumed the dog's body and plans to do a necropsy, also said it offers low-cost alternatives.

A pet can be euthanized for as little as $15, said Megan Trethewey, an SPCA spokeswoman.

"Even if you're destitute and out, there are options," Trethewey said. "There are options so that another animal does not have to suffer like this one did."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at or (727) 893-8643.

Men accused of killing dog say it was an act of mercy 08/04/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000


    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times

  2. Bucs' Ali Marpet: Move to center could pay off big


    TAMPA — No player works as closely with Jameis Winston as the center. Only those two touch the ball on every play. Together they make — if you will — snap judgements about defensive alignments.

     Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ali Marpet #74 warm up prior to preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  3. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump


    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  4. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  5. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings


    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee