A Madison Twp. man charged with felony cruelty to a companion animal after he allegedly struck a German shepherd multiple times with a bat that later died was arrested Wednesday evening at his Elk Creek Road residence.
This morning, Charles K. Miller was at Middletown Municipal Court inquiring about his arraignment date after posting $10,000 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning.
Miller, 60, of the 4400 block of Elk Creek Road, said he would save his statements for the courtroom but added, “I am not guilty of this.”
The incident happened Monday on Elk Creek Road. The dog, a 9-month-old named Ruger, was found on Miller’s property, bleeding and not moving, according to a sheriff’s office. Ruger was taken to an emergency veterinary clinic by its owner and was euthanized due to its condition and injuries.
Miller, who admitted to striking the dog with a bat, was originally charged with a misdemeanor, but on Wednesday, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said that he intervened in Miller’s case.
The dog’s owner, Skylar Foster, was also cited for failing to keep a dog physically restrained or secured after the incident that caused high emotions as residents disputed how the dog ended up the neighbor’s yard and how many times it was struck with a bat.
Gmoser said after further looking at the initial evidence, Miller’s actions rise to the level of “serious physical harm to this dog.”
The charge is a fifth-degree felony.
Foster, who recently moved into her dad’s home on Elk Creek Road, was cited into Middletown Municipal Court on Aug. 15 for failing to keep a dog physically restrained or secured.
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 an 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.
“But 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 to dog while it was on the ground.”
Kevin Foster, Skylar Foster’s father, claims Miller, his neighbor, entered the Fosters’ fenced-in yard to retrieve two of Miller’s chickens that apparently entered the Fosters’ property and left the gate open.
Ruger then followed Miller back to his house, Kevin 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.
But Miller said that’s not what happened. He told this news outlet he was notified by someone at around 8:30 p.m. Monday “there was a dog in your backyard after your chickens.”
Miller said on Tuesday that 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 intended to trap the dog, believing it would kill the chicken in its mouth. However, when the dog allegedly snarled at him, Miller said he struck it 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.”
On Wednesday, Butler County Sheriff’s deputies were twice called the neighboring Elk Creek Road residences for alleged threats.
On the first call, Kevin Foster was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant from Hamilton Municipal Court.
Later in the afternoon deputies were called back and Nicholas D. Isaacs was issued a citation for menacing, a first degree misdemeanor.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.