A 27-year-old Medford-area transient was arrested on felony arson and animal abuse charges after setting fire to his ex-girlfriend's rabbit and cat inside her home on Olympic Avenue early Friday.
Darryl Wayne Smith Jr. is lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of first-degree arson and aggravated animal abuse. His bail was set at more than $1 million.
Fire engines were called to the residence in the 1000 block of Olympic Avenue at 2:37 a.m. Friday after an alert neighbor reported seeing smoke and flames inside the home.
Upon arrival, fire personnel found the living room in flames. They quickly doused the fire and found that no one was home.
However, a rabbit died in the flames and a cat was injured, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
Budreau said it appeared that Smith's intention was to harm the woman's pet rabbit and cat.
"We think the animals were targeted," Budreau said.
While officers still were on the scene, Smith arrived at the home and was contacted by investigators who determined that the woman living at the home had a restraining order against Smith.
He was arrested and jailed for violating the restraining order. He was released from jail later that day.
Fire investigators found evidence that the fire had been intentionally set, and further proof was discovered suggesting Smith had started the blaze.
"We believe a domestic dispute between Smith and the woman led to him starting this fire," Budreau said.
Smith was arrested again on Saturday and charged with felony arson and animal abuse.
First-degree arson is a Measure 11 crime that carries a mandatory 7.5-year sentence upon conviction.
Aggravated animal abuse is a felony and is charged when a person maliciously kills or tortures an animal.
Budreau said the incident could have turned out much worse.
"This is a residential area, and other homes could have caught fire," Budreau said. "Also, the first responders assume that someone is home when a fire occurs that late in the night. So they enter the residence to see if someone needs rescuing. They could have lost their lives."
Smith has had at least two restraining orders placed against him by this woman, court records show.
"This was a case of a dispute that didn't need to go this far," Budreau said. "The poor bunny didn't have to die."
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.