A Washington man who unsuccessfully tried to euthanize his dog by hitting it with a sledgehammer will go to jail for 14 days, a judge decided.
40-year-old Chad Scott Miller of Longview said his dog, Nero, bit him after he hit it for eating a box of donuts, the Associated Press reports. So, feeling he had run out of options and fearing the dog would bite a family member, Miller hit the dog with a sledgehammer in an attempt to kill it.
Miller first told authorities that he’d killed and buried the dog, the Daily News reports. Police struggled to continue the investigation without the cooperation of witnesses, but when it was found that Nero was recovering in a local Humane Society shelter, Miller confessed that the dog has escaped after he hit it with the hammer.
Miller will face two weeks of jail time for animal cruelty against the 2-year-old dog. Prosecutors had asked for a month, but Judge Gary Bashor said that Miller seemed genuinely regretful for what had happened to his pet. In fact, if Miller had successfully ended the dog's life, there would be no case at all, the judge said.
“I was at the end of my rope,” Miller said during his Tuesday sentencing, his voice trembling. "I didn’t know what else to do. If I gave him to somebody, and then he got bit, it was my fault. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to hurt him. I loved him. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t really miss him.”
In addition to the jail time, the defendant will also have to pay $5,000 in fines and will be prohibited from owning pets for two years.
Miller lives off of disability and food stamps. He feared for his grandmother and children’s safety with the pit bull around but felt he couldn’t afford to have the animal put down.
Mike Nicholson, the Humane Society’s animal control supervisor, said that euthanizing a pet oneself should be a last resort.
“Just don’t try to put an animal down based on your own beliefs that you can’t afford it,” Nicholson said. "You need to talk to family and friends. No one should have to do this."
Nero recovered from three hairline fractures and is awaiting adoption at the Humane Society, where staff say he has been getting along well with other dogs and people.