CINCINNATI— An inmate accused in the death of a dog at an Ohio prison where the animal was placed in a program pairing inmates with foster dogs has been indicted on a felony charge.
Court records show a Warren County grand jury indicted Benjamin Holliday this week. He is charged with prohibitions concerning companion animals.
Authorities say Holliday, 31, was an inmate in the Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon on Aug. 25 when he’s accused of causing the death of the dog being trained as a companion animal. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Thursday that authorities believe Holliday kicked the dog.
Joseph’s Legacy, the animal rescue charity which placed the 4-year-old German Shepherd-Elkhound mix named Evie in the foster program, has said the dog died of “blunt force trauma to her abdomen.”
Fornshell said he wouldn’t comment on a potential motive, but added that “we don’t believe this was a one-time incident.” He said authorities believe there may have been ongoing abuse of the dog.
State prison records show Holliday is now at Madison Correctional Institution in London, where he’s serving a sentence of more than nine years for robbery, burglary and receiving stolen property.
Holliday could be sentenced to up to a year in prison if convicted in the dog’s death, Fornshell said.
Court records don’t list an attorney for Holliday.
Joseph’s Legacy said it obtained the dog in 2015 when it had a broken hip from a car accident. The charity had placed other dogs in prisons through the program that allows inmates to train rescue dogs and prepare them to be adopted on the outside.
Joseph’s Legacy president, Meg Melampy, said Thursday that the charity pulled all of its dogs from the program after Evie’s death.
Melampy said the indictment revived sadness over Evie’s death but shows that “she did not die in vain.” She said she hopes that what happened may result in better protection for other animals.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has said the prison system has “zero tolerance” for any type of abuse of animals in its programs.
A committee formed to review those programs has been developing a standardized policy that will focus on the well-being and care of the animals, prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said in an email Thursday. Smith said officials expect the policy will be in place by the end of this month.