Man whose dog froze to death in Belleville faces additional charges

News-DemocratMay 9, 2014 

The doghouse outside of the home during the bitter January cold.

DERIK HOLTMANN — dholtmann@bnd.com

The man facing a charge of cruelty to an animal after his dog froze to death -- while chained outside in bitter cold weather in Belleville -- now faces more charges carrying potentially additional penalties.

Robert E. Dickerson, 48, faces four counts of violating the state's Humane Care for Animals Act between Dec. 24 and Jan. 7.

Dickerson allegedly chained the dog in a side yard at 401 S. 23rd St. in Belleville as the coldest weather in decades hit the metro-east in January.

Dickerson could not be reached for comment.

Neighbors attempted to save the dog, known as "Winston," but the Chow mix with dark fur was found dead inside a makeshift doghouse on Jan. 7. Winston's death spurred residents to call upon the St. Clair County Board to enact tougher legislation to prevent similar deaths in the future.

Along with a host of other duties, the Humane Care for Animals Act requires the owner to provide animals adequate protection from the weather. Every day that a violation continues constitutes a separate offense.

The first conviction of violating the law is a misdemeanor with a sentence of up to six months in prison and $1,500 fine. Subsequent convictions are considered felonies with prison sentences ranging from one to three years.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said Dickerson faces misdemeanor penalties for the current offenses. If Dickerson is convicted of the current charges and later commits the same offense, then he faces felony penalties.

If convicted of the charge of cruelty to animals, Dickerson faces up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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