XENIA — A Dayton man pleaded guilty to causing serious physical harm to a companion animal in Greene County Common Pleas Court Jan. 31.
Matthew Bolen, 24, was charged with the fifth-degree felony after allegedly abusing his puppy named Willow. The canine was eight weeks old in August 2017 when Bolen allegedly took her by the leash and slammed her repeatedly to the ground, causing serious injuries. A neighbor reported the incident and the Xenia Police Department responded.
Judge Stephen Wolaver told Bolen he would not make a decision on sentencing at the hearing and would instead order a pre-sentence investigation. He set a disposition date for Thursday, April 26, where Bolen will either be given a prison sentence or community control, according to Wolaver.
Bolen also agreed to pay restitution of $500 to the dog’s caretaker, donate $2,574 to WagsInn Canine Charities and $2,574 to Petnet to represent the total amount paid for the care and rehabilitation of the dog. The state recommended community control sanctions to include a six month jail term, as well as the defendant undergoing a psychological evaluation, forfeiting any companion animals in his care and a prohibition from caring for any companion animals.
“I just want you to be aware that while I may very well follow that recommendation [community control], I am not bound [to it] — I can either follow or not follow that recommendation,” Wolaver said to Bolen after reading the record.
Leah Lind, a Xenia victim advocate who adopted the puppy, said she was disappointed that there wasn’t a resolution to the case yet but that the ongoing investigation will be beneficial in the long run.
“It was disappointing, I want it over — [but] I will be able to talk to the probation officer about my concerns and what I have learned as this case has progressed about his history and I think that will be beneficial,” she said.
The puppy, now seven months old, sustained serious injuries from the alleged incident including a broken leg, along with an injured hip and knee, both requiring surgeries. According to Lind, the puppy’s veterinarian said amputation is still a possibility.
“But she’s very spunky and spirited. He didn’t break that spirit and so I think that is to her benefit. She’s so spirited so she doesn’t let anything stop her. She’s running around the house … so I think she’s doing pretty good considering,” Lind said.
Along with Lind, dozens of community members sat in the courtroom for the hearing. The community raised more than $5,000 for Willow’s surgeries through a Facebook fundraising effort.
Governor John Kasich signed Goddard’s Law, also called House Bill 60, in June 2016. The law, which went into effect in September 2016, enables prosecutors to bump up animal abuse charges to a felony level.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.