Venice man accused of beating dog to death with shovel; two families now grieving

Venice man accused of beating dog to death with shovel; two families now grieving

VENICE (WWSB) - Police arrested Aaron Merwine on Saturday night after he allegedly beat an eight-pound chihuahua to death with a shovel outside of his home in Venice.

The dog, Lucky, belonged to TJ Connors and Samantha Smith. They adopted the dog from Aaron’s family, and Lucky was staying at Aaron’s home for the weekend.

“Every couple of weeks I’d get a text asking if they could see the pups, so we’d take them over for the weekend,” explained Connor, “They were regular parts of the dog’s life, so that’s why I can’t even believe I’m having this conversation with you right now.”

That’s what made the matter even worse. Both families say Aaron loved that little dog and always treated lucky like his own.

“To find out that it was my son who did this. He snapped. It’s just unreal. I don’t know how that just happens. That was his dog,” James Mucha, Aaron Merwine’s father, expressed to us. He went on to say, “I’m really sorry for what my son’s done. I’m torn to pieces because I love Lucky, and for it to end right outside my doors has been even harder because I have to walk outside and see it every day, so I said we’ll plant flowers and plant a little tree here and call it our Lucky tree because Lucky’s little soul was here.”

Aaron Merwine was arrested for allegedly beating a dog to death with a shovel outside of his home in Venice.
Aaron Merwine was arrested for allegedly beating a dog to death with a shovel outside of his home in Venice.

What led Aaron to do this is still a mystery, but his father tells us that he’s tried to get him help multiple times. He even had him sent for a mental health evaluation under the Baker Act just a few months ago.

“He’s done some horrible actions. He’s in a bad place. He’s now going to go through the system and hopefully get the help he needs because he seriously needs help,” Mucha explained.

Aaron Merwine is being held in Sarasota County Jail on a $100,000 bond. He’s charged with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and five counts of cruelty to animals.

His arraignment is scheduled for May 10th.

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