BRENTWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Authorities are looking into whether a Northern California chicken farmer broke any laws when he beat two pet dogs to death with a shovel, then burned and buried them.

Contra Costa County Animal Services Deputy Director Rick Golphin on Tuesday says a Brentwood man acknowledged killing the dogs on Saturday because they got into his chicken coops and killed 40 of his birds.

The man’s name has not been released.

The dogs’ owners contend the beatings were excessive. They say the dogs went through a hole in the fence of their backyard and could not be found.

They later learned that their Rottweiler named Jager and their German shepherd named Luke, had been beaten with a shovel, burned and buried.

A state law allows a person to reasonably defend his livestock — even if it means killing another animal.

The incident is under investigation.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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