MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The case of a man accused of beating a neighbor’s German shepherd with a baseball bat has led to two arrests and several threats with the prosecutor intervening to upgrade charges amid conflicting stories about what happened.
Three days after the dog was euthanized, Charles K. Miller of Madison Township posted $10,000 bond Thursday and said, “I am not guilty of this,” the Journal-News reported.
The 60-year-old Miller, now charged with felony cruelty to a companion animal, was arrested Wednesday. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning.
The dog, a 9-month-old named Ruger, was found bleeding and not moving on Miller’s property on Elk Creek Road, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
The case has created bad blood between neighbors and and high emotions in the community. Deputies responded to the neighborhood twice on Wednesday because of alleged threats.
Kevin Foster, Miller’s neighbor and the dog owner’s father, was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant from Hamilton Municipal Court. Nicholas D. Isaacs was issued a citation for menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Miller admitted hitting the dog once and only after it snarled at him, according to the Journal-News.
The dog owner’s father said Miller repeatedly hit the dog until it “collapsed his skull.”
Miller was originally charged with a misdemeanor, but on Wednesday, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said that he had intervened in Miller’s case.
Gmoser said after further looking at the evidence, Miller’s actions rise to the level of “serious physical harm to this dog.”
The charge is a fifth-degree felony.
The dog’s owner, Skylar Foster, was cited to court Aug. 15 for failing to keep a dog physically restrained or secured. Foster recently moved into her dad’s home.
Butler County Deputy Dog Warden Supervisor Kurt Merbs said Miller was charged with cruelty because of the number of times he allegedly hit the dog.
“You are allowed to protect yourself against a threatening animal on your property,” Merbs said. “(If he) pulled out a gun and shot and killed it, there would be no charges. And the owner would still get a citation.”
But Merbs said there was some things Miller said about the number of times he allegedly hit the dog that didn’t seem correct.
“When you hit a dog five to 10 times, the threat is gone. It is over. That rises to the level of cruelty,” Merbs said. “He was essentially hitting the dog while it was on the ground.”
Kevin Foster claimed Miller entered his fenced-in yard to retrieve two of Miller’s chickens and left the gate open. The dog then followed Miller back to his house, Foster said.
“This man beat our dog over and over and over with a bat to a point where it collapsed his skull, made his eyeball fall out of his socket, and in the end basically took his life,” Kevin Foster said.
Miller had a different story. He told the Journal-News Tuesday that he was notified around 8:30 p.m. Monday “there was a dog in your backyard after your chickens.”
Miller said the dog was in his chicken coop and he went outside with a baseball bat. He said he intended to trap the dog, but the dog “came out snarling.”
“I love animals,” Miller said Tuesday. “We’ve got animals. We’ve got dogs. I went out there just to run this dog off. It was in my chicken coop with one of my chickens, already had it in its mouth.”
Miller said he struck the dog once because he was scared of an attack.
“I hate the way it did come down and I was scared,” he said. “I thought it was going to bite me, and that’s the only reason I hit him.”
The Journal-News is a news partner of WCPO 9 On Your Side.