Prosecutor wants felony charge for Butler County man who hit neighbor’s dog with bat

A Madison Twp. man was charged with cruelty to a companion animal after his neighbor’s dog’s death because he struck the dog with a bat multiple times, according to a Butler County dog warden supervisor.

The dog’s owner 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.

The incident happened Monday on Elk Creek Road. The dog, a 9-month-old German Shepherd named Ruger, was found on the neighbor’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.

Charles 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 has intervened in Miller’s case.

“I have asked the Middletown prosecutor to refile the charge as a felony,” Gmoser said. Felony animal cruelty is a fifth-degree felony.

Gmoser said after further looking at the initial evidence, Miller’s actions rise to the level of “serious physical harm to this dog.”

However, the man would not have been charged at all if he had shot the dog, said Butler County Deputy Dog Warden Supervisor Kurt Merbs, because of self-defense laws.

MORE: Butler County neighbors dispute reason dog was hit by baseball bat and later died

The owner of Ruger, Skylar 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.

MORE: UPDATE: Motorcyclist killed in Hamilton crash involving SUV, semi truck

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.”

The dog owners and Miller disagree on how the dog got out of its enclosure and into Miller’s yard, as well as how many times Miller hit the dog with a bat.

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.”

MORE: Report of fire at Middletown business leads to crew working on roof

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. “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.”

A crowd gathered Tuesday night at Foster’s Elk Creek Road house, asking for Justice for Ruger. 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.

MORE: 2-time sex offender back in Warren County Jail, accused of probation violation