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Cando man accused of chasing pig through bonfire, charged with cruelty

CANDO, N.D. -- Nearly five months after a reported break-in at a hog farm in north-central North Dakota, a young man appeared in court on charges accusing him of forcing a pig to run through a bonfire.

Alec James Miller, 18, appeared in Towner County District Court Tuesday for an initial appearance on Class C felony charges of burglary and animal cruelty and a misdemeanor theft charge stemming from the May 16 break-in at Dakota Country Swine, a hog farm outside of Cando.

The investigation, led by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, found evidence Miller broke into the pig farm using a pocket knife and removed two pigs from the facility, which is owned by parent company Sky Can Ltd.

Documents say Miller later chased one of the pigs in a way that forced it to “run through a bonfire.”

Entrance into the facility resulted in $37,138 in damages, according to charging documents.

The farm’s manager told the Herald there was risk of the burglars jeopardizing hygiene standards at the facility, which typically houses about 18,000 pigs.

Charges against Miller were filed Sept. 6, according to court records. He was summoned to appear Tuesday and was not placed under arrest.

He is currently free on a $3,000 bond with the stipulation he not go within 1,000 feet of a hog farm. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 31.

This is not Miller’s first criminal charge related to mistreating animals. In March he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of harassing wildlife from a motor vehicle. A citation from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department states Miller was harassing wildlife from his snowmobile on March 8. He received a deferred imposition of sentence in the case for one year and paid $225 in fines and fees, records show.