A man who was awaiting trial for shooting and killing his neighbor's dog was found dead Tuesday.

West Valley police Tuesday would only confirm that Gary Deloy Griffiths, 61, was found dead at his home and that his death was not suspicious.

Last September, police say Griffiths shot MaLissa and Ryan Pahl's 7-pound Pomeranian dog named Ozzie in front of their young daughter using a .22-caliber rifle and then threatened Ryan with the gun. Despite several surgeries, Ozzie died nine days later. Griffiths was charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated assault, a third degree felony; aggravated animal abuse, a class A misdemeanor; and illegal discharge of a firearm.

The case outraged many groups and was one of the examples used during the past legislative session by those pushing for animal abuse to be a felony crime.

It was unknown Tuesday if Griffiths' death was related to his charges.

"We're deeply saddened. It's a tragedy, it really is," said Ryan Pahl. "It's the worst scenario that could have played out. It's really hard to take. I wish it would have ended a different way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife. We're in shock, we really are."

Despite the feelings the Pahls had when their dog was killed, Ryan said the incident wasn't worth anyone's life.

"The loss of any life is a tragedy," said Temma Martin with the Utah Animal Adoption Center. "This person did not deserve to die. The saddest part is some people will be pleased by this news."

If a person is feeling remorse for harming an animal, Martin said there's hope for that person knowing they are able to show compassion.

"People can develop compassion even if they haven't shown it in other ways throughout their lives," she said. "They need professional help. A jail sentence alone will not change a person's behavior."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com