STEVENSON, Wash. -- A man accused of blowing up his dog by attaching a homemade bomb to its neck pleaded not guilty Thursday to five charges, including animal cruelty.
At his arraignment in Skamania County Superior Court, Christopher W. Dillingham, 45, was charged with possessing an explosive device, two counts of reckless endangerment, animal cruelty and a fireworks violation.
Trial was tentatively set for Oct. 14.
His family was present for the hearing, but declined to speak to the media afterward.
Following Dillingham's arrest Aug. 5, some people were outraged that he was not initially charged with animal cruelty. That charge was added later -- after he was already booked in jail.
Skamania County Prosecutor Adam Kick called the controversy over not immediately filing an animal cruelty charge a huge misunderstanding. He has said his office was more focused on the stiffer charges that would lead to Dillingham being held in jail on higher bail. Possession of an explosive device is a class A felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
"Our initial concern was really to just protect the community and make sure he was held in custody," Kick said. "We were always reviewing other charges. We had a conversation all day long about the animal cruelty charge."
According to court documents, deputies were called to Dillingham's home at about 4 a.m. and discovered him ransacking his house. They found the dead yellow lab, named Cabela, decapitated.
When deputies asked if and why he had killed it, they said Dillingham calmly told them the dog had been given to him by his ex-girlfriend, and that she had “put the devil in it," according to court documents.
"Obviously, I’ve never seen anything like this before and certainly Skamania county has never seen anything like this before," Kick said. "Our biggest concern is protecting the community."
Dillingham remains in jail on $500,000 bail.