A Longview man who allegedly tried to kill his pit bull mix with a sledgehammer last October is being charged with first-degree animal cruelty.
Chad Scott Miller, 39, has been served with a summons to appear Wednesday in Cowlitz County Superior Court at 11:30 a.m., according to the prosecutor’s office.
On Oct. 21, the Humane Society received a complaint that a dog had been killed by its owner with a sledgehammer. When animal control officers and sheriff’s deputies contacted Miller, he said he’d killed his 2-year-old red nose pit bull, Nero, with a 3-pound sledgehammer and then buried Nero in the woods in Rose Valley.
Miller explained to authorities at the time that he’d hit Nero for eating a box of doughnuts a couple of days earlier and the dog had bitten him, which prompted Miller to decide to kill him. The dog bite resulted in one puncture mark on Miller’s arm, animal control supervisor Mike Nicholson said.
However, a few days after Miller confessed, some Rose Valley residents brought an injured pit bull that matched Nero’s description to the Humane Society. The people had found the dog lying in the 8300 block of Rose Valley Road with a head wound. They tended to the dog for six days, then brought it to the Longview animal shelter after unsuccessfully trying to find its owner, Nicholson said.
The pit bull was treated for three hairline skull fractures at Lower Columbia Veterinary Clinic and has fully recovered. Staff at the veterinary clinic, where Miller used to bring his dog, told the Humane Society the injured pit bull was indeed Nero.
Nero is staying with a foster family until the case is resolved, Nicholson said.
“The family that has the dog says he’s doing just fine,” he said Thursday.
When Nicholson called Miller to say he thought the Humane Society had Nero, a surprised Miller admitted he tried to kill the dog but it had escaped after a couple blows to the head, Nicholson said.
Miller had raised Nero from a puppy, and Nicholson said the dog did not have a history of biting people.
Under state law, a person is guilty of first-degree animal cruelty if he or she intentionally inflicts substantial pain on an animal, physically injures or kills it by causing undo suffering.
Nicholson attributed the long delay in filing criminal charges to the difficulty of getting witnesses’ cooperation.
“It was just such an ugly case that it did take a while to get all my evidence and witnesses lined up,” Nicholson said.