Utah man charged with adopting, torturing several dogs

Jun 20, 2022, 12:33 PM
FILE: Cottonwood Heights police cruisers in Cottonwood Heights on Friday, June 26, 2020. (Jeffrey D...
FILE: Cottonwood Heights police cruisers in Cottonwood Heights on Friday, June 26, 2020. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — A 20-year-old man who police say has adopted and abused animals for over a year is now facing criminal charges.

Kaiden Orie Graham was charged with four counts of torture of a companion animal, each a third-degree felony, on Friday in 3rd District Court.

According to court documents, officers with the Cottonwood Heights Police Department responded to Graham’s home on May 17 for an animal welfare check.

Graham’s coworker told officers that she was worried Graham’s dogs wouldn’t be taken care of after he told her he was going out of town, and she went to check on them.

The coworker said Graham let her know the front door was unlocked, and she was “consumed” by the “heavy odor of urine and feces coming from within.”

She told police she found a small puppy, named Loki, behind a door in need of medical care and a second dog, Freya, in a locked kennel with urine and feces.

According to court documents, an officer arrived and determined the apartment was “unsafe for human and animal occupancy” before contacting the Salt Lake County Health Department and animal control officers.

A second officer arrived at Graham’s home and noticed “the burning smell of ammonia” and located Loki and Freya in a back room.

That officer said Loki, a 5-month-old Shiba Inu puppy, appeared dehydrated, had a cauliflower ear and “when he attempted to get up, he circled one way and fell over.”

According to court documents, both dogs appeared extremely underweight to the second officer.

Loki was taken to a veterinarian the next day and had x-rays, a CT scan and an MRI taken.

According to court documents, the scans showed Loki had “broken ribs in various stages of healing, a spinal injury and a leg injury,” along with a broken jaw and severe head trauma that had caused blindness.

During their investigation, officers learned Graham had adopted seven dogs between March 2021 and January 2022. According to court documents:

  • Graham adopted Ragnarok in March 2021. The dog weighed 57.6 pounds and was healthy when adopted from the Humane Society of Utah. Graham returned the dog to the society weighing 43 pounds.
  • Two dogs, Layla and Heidi, were both adopted and returned to the Humane Society.
  • After returning the second and third dogs, Graham adopted Gravy on July 11. Gravy was healthy when adopted. Graham called the Humane Society the next day claiming Gravy had a seizure and fell from the couch. Three days later, Gravy was taken to an animal hospital after Graham said the dog fell off the couch, and Gravy was euthanized.
  • Graham adopted Arnold on July 22, and returned him the next day, saying Arnold was not eating, was vomiting and falling over. The Humane Society placed Graham on a “no-adopt” list after an exploratory surgery found Arnold had injuries to the liver, including bruising and lesions.
  • On July 29, Graham adopted Freya from a West Jordan pet store. The dog was treated for a broken leg two weeks later; Graham said Freya broke her leg on equipment at a dog park. The wound was treated but Graham did not return to get the bandage changed weekly, and Freya’s leg was amputated due to infection.
  • On Jan. 17, a woman told police she saw Graham beating a dog in a car. The witness also said she and her daughter saw Graham “pick up the dog (by the) neck and begin swinging the dog from the dashboard to the seat, hitting the dog’s head on both.”

Police also said Graham had cared for a chinchilla that died, and he gave varying accounts of how it died. Witnesses told investigators Graham owned two cats at one time, and they both died under suspicious circumstances.

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Utah man charged with adopting, torturing several dogs