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'It was a shame he had to die' Owner of pit bull that was euthanized says he stole the dog from the pound to save its life

Christopher Baker thinks it's an absolute crime his 13-month-old pit bull Zeus had to die because of humans' misdeeds.

Baker, owner of the pit bull that was stolen from him and badly beaten before authorities put it to death March 6, admits he deserved to be arrested for breaking into the Cheektowaga dog kennel -- to rescue his dog.

But he insists that what he did was right. "He was the sweetest, most gentle dog on the planet," Baker said. "He had a lot of energy, and he loved to play, but he never bit anybody. It was a shame that he had to die."

The events that led to Zeus' death began in January, when Baker said his dog was stolen from his Lancaster apartment. He later learned that a man he barely knows took the dog back to his Cheektowaga home.

On Feb. 17, Zeus, after being accused of biting a little girl, was taken to Como Park. The dog was chained to a tree, beaten, kicked and left to die.

That day, a friend of Baker's learned what had happened to the dog, and early the next morning, the friend found the dog in Como Park and took it to a home in Cattaraugus County.

Authorities confiscated the dog and took Zeus to the Cheektowaga police dog kennel, where he was going to be put to death, because of both the bite and the beating.

On March 5, the night before Zeus was going to be euthanized, Baker admits he and a friend broke into the kennel to steal -- and save -- the dog. He took the dog to the garage of his parents' Transit Road residence.

Once again, authorities learned about the dog's whereabouts the next day. They reclaimed the dog and arrested Baker and his friend. Zeus was euthanized that day.

"I did break into the police dog pound," Baker said. "I deserve having these charges brought against me. But I think what I did was right. If I hadn't told too many people what I did, the dog would be alive today."

Baker, 27, said the dog seemed to be healing and could have survived as a loving pet. Authorities, though, say the reported dog bite and the injuries made it impossible.

"The decision to put the dog down was the appropriate one," Cheektowaga Police Capt. John Glascott said.

The case led to four arrests, two for the beating and two for the kennel break-in. Baker was charged with burglary and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of trespassing. He will be sentenced April 21.

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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