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Animal abuse charges dropped

Animal abuse charges were dismissed Thursday against an Eagle Point man accused of killing his neighbor's dog.

But additional charges are likely to be filed, officials said.

Fredric Lorenz Hines Jr., 37, of the 10000 block of East Antelope Road, was accused of shooting his neighbor's dog with a .22-caliber rifle in February 2002. Hines faced charges of aggravated first-degree animal abuse, first-degree animal abuse and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

Hines had pleaded not guilty, and a trial was set for Thursday. But because key witnesses for the prosecution were out of town, Circuit Court Judge William Purdy dismissed all three charges, said Rachel Bridges, deputy district attorney.

The case previously was postponed because the same witnesses were not available to testify, she said.

New charges can be filed in the case, and an additional count likely will be added, Bridges said.

He is not done and forgotten, she said.

A Jackson County grand jury is likely to consider the original charges plus an added felony count of abusing an animal in front of a child, Bridges said. Hines allegedly shot the dog while his stepson watched, she added.

The Oregon Legislature in 2002 made it a felony to commit an act of animal abuse in the presence of a minor.

This wasn't Hines' first animal abuse scrape. In December, he was convicted of abusing his own St. Bernard, Chief, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Chief was chained up in the cold and rain for several months without food or water while Hines and his wife were going through a divorce. The St. Bernard has since recovered and was adopted by a local family.