In the early morning hours of Aug. 4, 45 year old Washington man, Chris Dillingham, fed his dog treats as he strapped a bomb to her. At 3:45 a.m. Dillingham detonated the bomb, blowing his canine companion Cabela to pieces on his front lawn.
“It sounded like a high-power rifle outside my window,” said Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown, who was awakened by the blast.
Several neighbors called the authorities. When Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, they found Cabel’s remains scattered all over the lawn and Dillingham babbling about “the coming rapture”. Dillingham told the police that he had killed the dog because his ex-girlfriend had “put the devil in the dog”.
Subsequently, Dillingham was arrested and charged with animal cruelty, amongst other felonies, but charges were later dropped due to the wording in Washington’s laws regarding animal cruelty.
A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the first degree when, except as authorized by law, he or she intentionally inflicts substantial pain on, or causes physical injury to, or kills an animal by a means causing undue suffering, or forces a minor to inflict unnecessary pain, injury, or death to an animal. A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the first degree when, except as authorized by law, he or she, with criminal negligence, starves, dehydrates, or suffocates an animal and as a result causes substantial and unjustifiable physical pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering or death.
Because Cabela had died instantly, and therefore according to authorities had not suffered, no animal cruelty charges applied, and the charges were dropped.
When word got out that the charges had been dropped, public outrage prompted hundreds of letters to flood into county offices over the case, demanding that Dillingham be charged for the unnecessary death of Cabela. The correspondence raised the legitimate question: How can a man kill an innocent animal and it not be considered a serious crime such as animal cruelty?
On Aug. 5, Undersheriff Dave Cox released the following statement:
I would like to bring everyone up to speed on this case.
When Mr Dillingham was arrested Sunday morning, the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office arrested him for Reckless Endangerment, Malicious Mischief, Possession of Explosive Devices, and ANIMAL CRUELTY.
When the Skamania County Prosecutor reviewed the case and the requested charges, they elected to not file on the Animal Cruelty charge at the time of the media release. There is verbiage in that statute (RCW 16.52.205) that in part states”…(c)kills an animal by a means causing undue suffering…” The Sheriff’s Office felt that was an appropriate statute, thus making the request.
Our prosecutor chose not to file on this statute as yet, as there is current and new case law that needs to be further reviewed. He wants to ensure that those charges brought against Mr. Dillingham will be fully prosecutable. Please also note we have also utilized the BATF in this investigation as well.
Please know that we are doing everything we can to ensure Mr Dillingham is properly charged with this crime. I have full confidence in Prosecutor Kick and his staff to ensure this will take place. Currently, Mr Dillingham is being held on 2 counts of Reckless Endangerment and 1 count of Possession of an Explosive Device with a set bail of $500,000.
Below I am posting the media release Prosecutor Kick put out this morning. Thank you all for allowing us to do our job, knowing full well we can not reveal all of the idiosyncrasies of the case.
Skamania County Sheriff’s Office
Media Release: 5 August, 2013
August 5, 2013—The Skamania County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office today charged Christopher Wayne Dillingham with Possession of Bomb or Explosive Device with Intent to Use for an Unlawful Purpose, a Class A felony carrying up to 20 years in prison.
Dillingham was also charged with two counts of Reckless Endangerment, carrying up to 364 days in jail each. At the request of the prosecutor, bail was set at $500,000.
Mr. Dillingham was arrested by the Skamania County Sheriff early Sunday morning. It is believed that Dillingham used an explosive device to kill his dog, endangering nearby children in the process.
At this time, the prosecutor is still reviewing the circumstances surrounding the charged incident in order to determine whether animal cruelty charges are also warranted.
We are reviewing the animal cruelty statutes and case law, and if the law allows, we will file additional charges in relation to the killing of the dog,” said Adam Kick, the Skamania County Prosecutor.
Contact: Pam Bell, Chief Civil Deputy, Skamania County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, 509-427-3790, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Aug. 8, authorities reversed their decision and decided to charge Dillingham with animal cruelty and various other felony charges. Dillingham is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 15.
A Facebook page, Justice for Cabela, has been created for up to date information on the case.