Davenport man’s animal torture conviction reversed

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Zachary Meerdink - photo from Iowa Department of Corrections

The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of a Davenport man who killed a dog with a baseball bat.

Zachary Meerdink, of Davenport, Iowa, was charged in January 2012 with animal torture.   Police said a Boston Terrier puppy urinated on the floor of the Davenport, Iowa apartment Meerdink shared with his girlfriend, and that Meerdink allegedly responded by taking the puppy outside and beating it to death with a baseball bat.

Police said they found the dog’s body in the yard outside the apartment, and that the dog had injuries to its head.

Meerdink was convicted of animal torture in a bench trial in Scott County Court in April 2012.  He was sentenced to two years in prison.

Iowa law says, “A person is guilty of animal torture, regardless of whether the person is the owner of the animal, if the person inflicts upon the animal severe physical pain with a depraved or sadistic intent to cause prolonged suffering or death.”

Meerdink appealed his conviction, challenging whether prosecutors had proved “depraved or sadistic intent” as stated in the law.

The appeals court ruled July 10, 2013 that prosecutors had proved Meerdink killed the dog but that they failed to sufficiently prove Meerdink acted with depraved or sadistic intent.

“Meerdink killed the dog in response to the dog biting a child and only after the dog had become more aggressive over time and unresponsive to remedial measures,” the ruling said.

The 2-1 ruling reverses Meerdink’s conviction and remands the case for dismissal.