STEVENSON, Wash. – The man accused of strapping an explosive device to his dog and detonating it will now be charged with animal cruelty, according to a joint news release from Skamania County prosecutors and the sheriff’s office.
The dog was killed in the explosion.
Christopher W. Dillingham, 45, was originally only charged with reckless endangerment and possession of an explosive device. Not charging him with animal cruelty sparked outrage among many members of the public.
But on Wednesday prosecutors said they had determined that Dillingham’s actions did meet the criteria under Washington state law to be charge with animal cruelty.
"There has been a considerable amount of public reaction to both the actions of Dillingham and the initial decision to delay filing the animal cruelty charge,” said Skamania County prosecutor Adam Kick in the news release. "While we understand the reaction of the public to the horrific manner in which the dog died, we felt the initial delay in filing the animal cruelty charges was necessary to research the law and determine whether the factual allegations met the specific elements of the animal cruelty statute."
He added that delays in determining charges are common and they are often added later.
Kick said Tuesday his office was initially focused on the stiffer charges that would lead to Dillingham being held in jail on higher bail.
He said animal cruelty was never taken off the table, as was initially reported to the media. Sheriff's deputies had said there was a question whether prosecutors could charge it because the statute calls for evidence of pain and suffering and the dog had died instantly.
"There was never a point where we said we're not going to charge animal cruelty," Kick said. "We chose the (charges) that were most clearly geared toward protecting the public and keeping Mr. Dillingham in custody. We were always still reviewing the statute on animal cruelty."
Dillingham will be arraigned on formal charges Aug. 15.