XENIA — Community members rallied around a Xenia celebrity pup Oct. 27 outside the Greene County Courthouse to raise awareness of Goddard’s Law, a new law in Ohio that raises the penalty for animal abuse.
Supporters and their dogs gathered on the sidewalk, some holding “Justice for Willow” signs, surrounding a puppy in a Wonder Woman costume. Inside the courthouse, Matthew Bolen, 24, was being arraigned for allegedly causing serious physical harm to a companion animal, a fifth-degree felony.
The female canine, also known as Willow, was 8 weeks old in August when her owner allegedly took her by the leash and slammed her repeatedly to the ground, causing her serious injuries. A neighbor reported the incident and the Xenia Police Department responded.
Leah Lind, a victim’s advocate in Xenia, adopted the puppy.
Willow survived but sustained serious injuries including a broken leg, along with an injured hip and knee, both requiring surgeries.
Donations soon poured in for the puppy through a Facebook fundraising effort that ultimately raised $5,000 for her surgeries, according to Lind.
Willow is recovering and going through physical therapy, Lind said, but there is a possibility she could lose her leg by amputation and she may still have some permanent injuries.
“We’re here to support the prosecutor’s office and to thank them for filing the charges and also to ask for a penalty and jail time,” Lind said as Willow played at her feet.
Goddard’s Law, also called House Bill 60, was signed by Governor John Kasich in June 2016 and went into effect September 2016. The law enables prosecutors to bump up animal abuse charges to a felony level.
“Because of that, Willow’s case is a new case under that law. We’re hoping to set some precedents for sentencing,” Lind said.
A pre-trial for Bolen is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 14 and a final pre-trial for Thursday, Dec. 28. No jury trial is set at this time, according to Magistrate Raymond Dundes. Judge Stephen Wolaver is assigned to the case. Bolen posted the $5,000 bond, court records indicate.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.
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