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The man accused of stomping and setting his girlfriend’s puppy on fire is now being charged with a felony.
Paul “Doobie” Dearinger was originally charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals, but that charge has been upgraded to a felony after an ongoing investigation revealed he actually tortured the dog, according to Anderson County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis.
Lewis said cruelty is when a person intentionally kills an animal. Torture, she said, is when a person intentionally inflicts or subjects an animal to extreme physical pain or injury, and is motivated by the intention to increase or prolong the pain the animal endures.
Had Dearinger been convicted of the cruelty charge, he could have faced up to a year in jail. The torture charge could land him in prison up to five years.
Dearinger was scheduled to appear in District Court last Thursday for a pretrial conference, but now that the charge against him has been upgraded, he is scheduled to appear this Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in front of District Court Judge Linda Armstrong.
Dearinger, 40, made headlines across the region for allegedly killing his girlfriend’s puppy, Buster, on Sept. 26.
A witness claims Dearinger likely kicked the dog to death before tossing it in a burn pit at 1330 Dry Dock Road and setting it on fire.
It remains unclear if the dog was dead when it was burned.
Several people then buried the dog, which had been placed in a trash bag.
The following day, a witness called Anderson County animal control officer Jason Chesser, who exhumed the dog’s remains and launched an investigation in conjunction with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
A warrant was issued for Dearinger’s arrest, but nearly a week went by before he was finally found and arrested in Franklin County.
The incident sparked outrage across Anderson County, including a variety of incendiary comments made on a Facebook page hosted by the local Humane Society.
E-mail Ben Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.