A Highlands man who thought he could discipline his growling dog by hanging it from a leash thrown over a closet door had pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in Atlantic Highlands Municipal Court.
Philip N. Hollenbeak, 57, of Sea Drift Avenue in Highlands pleaded guilty to the third degree charge before Municipal Court Judge Peter A. Locascio. His punishment is a $1,000 fine, and he is barred from any kind of animal ownership for five years.
According to Monmouth County SPCA Chief Buddy Amato, Hollenbeak was sleeping with his three-year old 130 lb. Chesapeake Bay Retriever when it started growling in the middle of the night.
"He thought cutting off the oxygen supply for a dog was an acceptable way to discipline it, so he took the leash and hung the dog over a closet door," said Amato. The dog was wearing a choke collar. "He was going to show the dog who was boss."
The dog died. Hollenbeak went back to bed.
At 9 o'clock in the morning, Hollenbeak called Highlands Police to ask them to send someone over to pick up the deceased dog. The police alerted the MCSPCA Chief.
Chief Amato said he did not seek jail time in the case, because Hollenbeak had no prior criminal record.
Chief Amato has been prosecuting animal cruelty cases for 10 years, and says the public is paying attention. "People are starting to become more aware of the fact that animal cruely has a correlation to other crimes," he said.