Deputies: Man kills dog by attaching explosive to it, detonating device

STEVENSON, Wash. -- A Stevenson man was arrested after deputies said he attached an explosive device to his dog and detonated it on Sunday, killing the animal.

Christopher W. Dillingham, 45, was charged with reckless endangerment and possession of an explosive device.

Sheriff's deputies were sent to Dillingham's home just before 4 a.m. after multiple people called 911 reporting that they heard an explosion.

Sheriff Dave Brown actually lives nearby. He said the explosion woke him up.

"Sounded like a high-powered rifle going off just outside my window," Brown said.

Responding deputies said they found the remains of the dog on Dillingham's property. They also found that Dillingham was throwing furniture from his house.

Investigators believe he attached the explosive device to his yellow lab's neck and detonated it.

Undersheriff Dave Cox wouldn't release the motive, citing the active investigation.

Cox said Dillingham wasn't initially accused of animal cruelty because the charge requires proof of animal suffering and in this case, "death (to the dog) was instantaneous." He said prosecutors might file such a charge later.

"I don't think anybody in my office or prosecutors or the criminal justice system will sit back and say the dog is no big deal," Brown said. "I think it's a tragedy."

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms as well as the metro area's bomb squad responded to Dillingham's home and seized several pieces of evidence, Cox said.

No property damaged was reported, as Dillingham detonated the device outside in his yard.

Records show Dillingham owns and operates a fireworks stand in the Stevenson area called the "Thundershack" and also puts on a fireworks show for neighbors.

Dillingham remains in jail on $500,000 bail.

Former owner of dog reacts

Ty Freemantle says he just gave the dog to Dillingham's family six months ago.

Freemantle used to live in Stevenson but had to move to Washougal within a week for a new job. His best friend said he knew someone who would make a good new home. He knew Chris Dillingham's daughter.

To Freemantle, the dog was Cabela, his one-of-a-kind companion. He found her on Craigslist when she was just six weeks old. They spent the next few years together hunting, farming and hanging out.

When Freemantle had to move, he did his due diligence. He checked out property, met the woman who would take him and took his best friends' word.

But now he can't shake the feeling that it wasn't enough.

"I felt a little bit of guilt too. It's the worst part," Freemantle said.

So he'll do what he can now by sharing Cabela's memory and fighting for the maximum penalty against her accused killer.

KATU News reporters Dan Cassuto and Erica Nochlin contributed to this report.

Correction: A previous version of this story cited a police source saying the incident stemmed from a dispute between the suspect on his daughter. Prosecutors have since said that is not the case. The story has been edited to reflect that change.