By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Felony charges for animal cruelty are rare, but charges have been filed against a Twin Cities man who police say tried to cut a dog’s head off with a machete.

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Jack, an 11-pound miniature pinscher, survived the initial attack, but had to be euthanized after a desperate effort to save his life.

George Nichols is charged with one felony count of animal torture and one of animal cruelty. He could face up to three years in prison.

Fewer than 50 felony animal cases have been successfully prosecuted in Minnesota in the last 12 years. But prosecutors clearly felt the facts in this case rose to that level.

Nichols owned Jack with his now ex-financee Sarah Jurasich. They had been living in the same Washington County home. But last week, they argued and Jurasich asked Nichols to help care for Jack.

“And he just threw a fit, and he’s like, ‘Well, fine. If Jack is the problem, then I will get rid of the problem,’” Jurasich said.

She says Nichols disappeared with the dog, and later texted her.

“It said, ‘Problem solved, Jack’s dead.’ I just texted him back; I’m like, ‘No,’” Jurasich said.

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Jack didn’t die, even though after the machete attack Nichols left him pinned under a Port Potty at a nearby park. Police found him and rushed him to a clinic.

That night he went to a pet hospital. Among his injuries were skull and jawbone fractures, and a cerebral hemorrhage. Jurasich said she had no choice.

“He was in so much pain, it was already over $2,000 dollar in vet bills, and I just…I decided to put him down and I just couldn’t let him suffer,” she said.

The criminal charges against Nichols bring Jurasich a small degree of comfort.

“The law looks at it as a property issue, but he was a member of the family, and in a nutshell he murdered a family member and it should be a felony,” she said.

When he was arrested, Nichols told police that Jack was his property and he could do whatever he wanted with the dog.

There is an order of protection in place to bar Nichols from approaching the home where Jurasich lives.

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Nichols has a prior felony drug conviction and a conviction for drunk driving.

Esme Murphy