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San Benito
February 27, 2024

Pre-trial hearing set for animal shelter break-in suspect

Court proceedings are moving ahead for the local man accused of breaking into the Hollister Animal Shelter to retrieve his lost pet.

The district attorney’s office previously charged Cecil Chalfant, 51, on suspicion of misdemeanor burglary and trespassing.

The San Benito County District Attorney’s Office on June 15 filed the misdemeanor charges against him, according to court records. On July 24, he was arraigned, and the parties scheduled a pre-trial conference for 2 p.m. Aug. 16 before Judge Steven Sanders.

A misdemeanor burglary conviction could result in up to one year in county jail, with additional time for trespassing.

According to police:

On May 6, a Hollister man was accused of burglary after breaking into the drop-off kennel at the shelter and having police identify him on surveillance.

On May 5,  a concerned citizen located a dog running loose in Hollister. The citizen had concern for the dog’s safety and was not able to determine who owned the dog. She took the dog to the Hollister Police Animal Care and Services Shelter where there is an overnight/drop off kennel available for people to drop off lost dogs. The kennel will lock after the door is closed.

The concerned citizen, meanwhile, had posted on a social media site a picture of the dog and if anyone was looking for their dog, it had been taken to the shelter. Later that same day, video surveillance at the Animal Shelter captured a man and a woman arriving and leaving soon after. The same man later returned and used tools to break into the kennel and removed the dog.

Police were notified and started an investigation. Police were able to identify the man as Cecil Chalfant, 51, who advised he was the owner of the dog. Chalfant advised he noticed the posting on social media and responded to the shelter and found his dog locked in the kennel. The man made no attempt to contact the police or anyone at the shelter. He also made no attempt to contact the shelter on the following Monday to advise them of what he had done.

The man was cited and released on suspicion of burglary and issued a citation for having a dog running at large. His case was referred to the District Attorney’s Office.

-Kollin Kosmicki

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