Phillip Rinn faces felony charges for animal cruelty.

AURORA, Ill. (STMW) – Jamie Cotner thought he was sending his pet of six years to a good home.

The west suburban Aurora man gave Eve away after he realized the sweet-natured pit bull-greyhound mix and his other dog were having trouble getting along.

“We had to keep them in separate rooms,” Cotner said. “And it wasn’t fair to either one.”

That tough decision was made a tad easier by the fact the prospective new owner worked with Cotner’s girlfriend’s father and seemed eager for a dog to help him get over a divorce. The man also had a child, no other dogs and a big backyard at his house next to a forest preserve — where Eve would have plenty of room to run.

Cotner said he and his two daughters even visited Eve a few times, until the new owner stopped returning phone calls. Disappointed but not necessarily concerned, he figured the guy didn’t want to be bothered by the dog’s former family.

Then he read in the paper last week that this 6-foot, 350-pound man had been arrested for beating a year-old Lab-shepherd mix. Even more alarming was the fact that this was not the first time Phillip Rinn, 41, had been charged with cruelty to animals.

In 1993, Rinn pleaded guilty to chaining his dog around the neck, then dragging the dog behind his car on Peck Road in an attempt to kill it. When the dog didn’t die, Rinn pulled over, ran over the dog again and left him in a ditch, where the dog eventually died of his injuries.

At his sentencing, Rinn promised never to mistreat an animal again. The judge gave him 30 days in jail, two years’ probation, a $500 fine and 100 hours of community service.

Cotner was devastated to learn he’d given Eve to a man with such a despicable history. Seventeen years ago, there had been such outrage over Rinn’s actions that the case prompted tougher laws for animal abusers. And indeed, last week police upgraded charges against Rinn in the new case from a misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony.

In the more recent incident, Kane County deputies responded Nov. 15 to Rinn’s home in the 300 block of South Kendall Street in Aurora after neighbors called 911. When deputies arrived, sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler said, they not only found a bloodied dog with missing teeth, but “Rinn was naked, standing in the doorway.”

That dog is healing. Gengler said the VAC Aurora Animal Hospital describes the new patient as sweet and lovable — and plenty of folks have offered to adopt her.

Cotner hopes Eve survived Rinn as well. The animal abuser had told others the dog had run away — and her former owner can only hope that’s the case.

His worst nightmare is that Eve is lying in a shallow grave somewhere, with the chip implanted in her neck as the only way to identify her.

If Eve did escape and someone found her, Cotner wants to know she’s OK.

“My ex-wife now has a big house with the kids,” he said. “It would have been perfect for Eve.”

Rinn’s next court date is scheduled for Dec. 29 in Kane County. He remains free on $100 bail.

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