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Man who once dragged dog with car pleads guilty again to animal cruelty

Magda the dog lost teeth when her former owner abused her.

A 43-year-old Aurora Township man is facing up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to animal cruelty for the second time.

Phillip Rinn quietly pleaded guilty to the felony Friday, admitting to beating a 60-pound Lab-shepherd mix with a broom handle in November 2010.

Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Reagan McGuire said Rinn’s neighbors called 911 at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 15, 2010, after they saw him inside his house swinging a stick at the 1-year-old dog named Magda, which was howling in pain. The 6-foot, 350-pound Rinn then brought the dog outside and continued to beat the animal, prosecutors said.

When they arrived at Rinn’s home, officers saw several pieces of broken wood in the house and found the dog’s face was bloodied, prosecutors said. Rinn admitted to hitting the dog, prosecutors said.

The dog had five broken teeth, swelling under its jaw and an injury to its right eye. Although the dog needed surgery to repair its teeth, the animal has since made a full physical recovery, McGuire said.

In 1993, Rinn pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cruelty to an animal. Police said Rinn admitted to chaining his dog, “Royal,” by the neck and driving off in his car, dragging the dog down Peck Road in Kane County in an attempt to kill it.

When the dog didn’t die, police said Rinn told them he pulled over, ran over the dog and left it in a ditch. Rinn explained he was mad at the dog because it had chewed his car’s vinyl roof and tried to bite his wife, police said.

There was a large outcry when those charges became public. Rinn said he received death threats and letters at his home. Even before his trial, he told a reporter the cruelty to the dog was an isolated incident blown out of proportion.

“I’m not some dog killer who did some sick deed,” he said at the time. “I like dogs as much as anyone.”

At his sentencing, Rinn said he was taking a rabid dog to the vet to be put down when it attacked. He ran it over with the car, he said, because he had no other options. The judge didn’t believe his story.

Rinn was sentenced to 30 days in jail, two years’ probation, a $500 fine and 100 hours of community service in that incident.

Rinn also had to promise never to mistreat an animal.

On Friday, Rinn and his attorney declined to comment.

Because his previous conviction was a misdemeanor rather than a felony, Rinn will not be eligible for an extended sentence when he’s sentenced May 10, McGuire said. But his prior conviction can be a factor in determining his sentence, McGuire said.

Rinn is eligible for probation. If he is sentenced to prison, it would be for at least one year.