Charges dropped against Lima man in dead dog case

March 20, 2013

LIMA — The criminal case against a Lima man accused of beating a dog to death was dismissed Wednesday after prosecutors said their case fell apart.

Dennis L. Phalen, 68, was charged with cruelty against a companion animal, a first-degree misdemeanor. He faced up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

“There was no significant admissible evidence available to indicate the event happened as originally alleged, and there is no justification in proceeding with this case at this time,” according to a statement released from the Lima City Prosecutor’s Office.

Witnesses failed to cooperate and refused to speak with prosecutors despite multiple attempts to interview them, the statement said.

Another witness saw the dog struck by a truck and car in the street, the statement said.

“The vet indicated the injuries to the dog are consistent with being hit by a motor vehicle, and could not say the injuries were from a beating,” the statement said.

The case is dismissed but can be refiled if new evidence surfaces, the statement said.

The case generated a lot of attention locally in December when charges were filed. Dozens of people attended the court hearing, and a protest was held outside Lima Municipal Court.

The case surfaced after Phalen’s wife drove the dog to the Humane Society of Allen County, seeking help. The dog’s face was swollen beyond recognition and appeared shattered and smashed, Allen County dog warden Julie Shellhammer said.