A 24-year-old man convicted of causing serious harm to a companion animal was sentenced to a year in prison as caretakers and the dog he abused attended his sentencing in Greene County Court Friday morning.
Matthew David Bolen was the first to be tried in Greene County under Goddard’s Law, which increases the severity of abusing a companion animal from a misdemeanor to a felony. Offenses that would qualify under the law include not feeding or watering an animal and causing long-term pain.
In addition to the year in prison, Bolen was ordered not to have contact with companion animals.
“They’re out of your life,” Judge Stephen Wolaver said to Bolen during his sentencing.
The law, which went into effect in Ohio in September 2016, provides a judge more sentencing options to include banning pet ownership for life.
Bolen was arrested in Xenia in August 2017 after he was seen hurting a puppy named Willow. After initially pleading not guilty, Bolen changed his plea to guilty as part of a plea agreement in January 2018.
Bolen apologized during his sentencing and asked for mercy for his opiate addiction.
“I just apologize for the crime itself and just wasting your guys’ time,” Bolen said.
“I’m tired of getting high and tired of wasting my life and just causing chaos everywhere I go.”
His sentencing date had been pushed back three times after he missed the initial final disposition hearing in April and then violating conditions of his bond.
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News of Bolen’s case spread as Leah Lind, the person who adopted Willow, took to social media to get support for the puppy’s care and to raise awareness of Goddard’s Law. Lind’s supporters gathered outside the courthouse to demonstrate.