Highlands man hung his Chesapeake Bay Labrador

Philip Hollembeak, 57, of Sea Drift Avenue in Highlands is in custody after allegedly hanging and killing his dog because the dog nudged him.

He nudged the dog back and when the dog growled, Hollembeak then decided he was going to discipline him by taking a leather tether leash attached to a choker collar and hung the dog over a closet door.

If convicted, Hollembeak could face up to a year in jail.


  1. Pretty sure you’ve absolutely taken all of the facts and all of the words and sensationalized them more than the actual article. “hung the dog over the closet door” really? no.


    • I really wish it wasn’t true…

      “He decided he was going to discipline him and show him who’s boss,” Amato said. “He took a leather tether leash attached to a choker collar and hung the dog over a closet door.”



    • He never said “he was going to show the dog who’s boss”, that was an assumption by Amato and the articles make it look like Phil said all of that. He also did not just “hang the dog over a closet door”. The dog was huge, I’m pretty sure he couldn’t even pick the dog up to do this. I know this man personally and words like that would never come out of his mouth. He rescued this dog when it was going to be euthanized and loved Otter very very much. Despite what the media wants to portray, he’s not “your typical whack-job crazy-person”. The dog was indeed a special case and was abused in shelters, so had some problems, but nonetheless he cared very much for Otter and worked very very hard in doing so. Taking time off of work just to spend with the dog. Tying a dog up, like you would to a post, if you were going into a store, is what happened…with absolutely NO ill intent, and things went wrong. Was it a mistake to do so? Probably/maybe? Why not just lock the dog out right? Well, Phils house was pretty much completely destroyed by Sandy. Just think about it for a moment. What’s more plausible? A guy calling the police on himself because he threw his 100lb dog over a closet door in the middle of the night because it growled at him? Or, a guy tied the trouble dog up and the dog hung himself by accident? Unfortunately, despite what really happens now, he’ll still always have these horrible articles that come up when someone googles his name. If he happens to be not guilty and it was all a very misfortunate accident, do you think blogs like yours are going to publish a story that says “Oh hey, remember that guy we said threw his dog over a closet door? yeah, well, it turns out, that wasn’t the case”. No. It’s really amazing how I read some comments on those linked news sites with people wanting to kill this guy without knowing the facts. The only facts from the article are.
      – Phil called the police to take care of his dog who died
      – Phil said the dog growled at him, and he tied it up downstairs

      That’s it. The rest is all assumption.


  2. Let me tell you a little something about the man you say “hung his dog over a closet door” and the man you call an animal abuser. I have had the pleasure of knowing this man for 47 years. He is a smart, caring wonderful man who rescued Otter when NO ONE ELSE wanted this “aggressive, dominent” dog. Otter sat in a kennel for a year because no one would give him a chance. He was “too much of a challenge” or he was “too much of a risk to take a chance with”. This man that you say did all this terrible stuff, took this dog in and gave him a loving, warm home. Otter had everything he could have ever wanted. Every toy or treat out there. He went to the beach and played for hours with Phil. He went on walks and outings. He researched all the ways to train an aggressive dog. He never gave up on Otter. He has been bitten and attacked by Otter many times, resulting in stitches and scars all over his hands. I asked him, do you think he’s a lost cause? He simply answered NO. I won’t give up on him. What he did when Otter bit his hand is he started feeding him by hand. He tried everything he knew to bond with Otter. He tried every technique out there. When one thing didn’t work, he would research and try a new one.

    Otter was well over 100lbs and was not hung over a closet door. The technique used was recommended by a dog trainer who deals with hard to handle dogs. It tells you on the internet how to do this.

    Phil loved Otter with all his heart and I’m sure feels just awful about this. Otter was his best friend. Phil’s Home was severely damaged from Hurricane Sandy. He and Otter had to evacuate. Did Phil take his personal belongings to the shelter? No, he took Otter and Otters’ food. Is that what a man who is thinking about how to hang his dog does? He didn’t take Otter to a Kennel, because he was HARD TO HANDLE so he took him everywhere with him. For three weeks, Phil and Otter lived in a shelter, because their home had been destroyed. Phil did not abandon him as someone who abused and didn’t care for his dog would have done. He didn’t leave Otters side for one minute.

    Phil cared more about Otter than some people do about their own children. Hearing all the stories about Phil and Otter was heartwarming. Every time we spoke on the phone there was a new funny story about something Otter had done.

    Phil has lost everything in his house, all his belongings, and this is the second time in as many years that a storm has made him lose everything. He had just put his life back together from the damage from Irene when he adopted Otter. Needless to say, life has been a bit trying for Phil in the last couple years. You don’t know anything about Phil, but you judge him. Isn’t that God’s job? You don’t know the first thing about the person you are judging and if you did, you would think very differently.

    Tell me what person who intentionally hung his dog is going to call Animal control? Wouldn’t someone who abused animals just throw the dog away in the trash and pretend he just died? Truly, would a murderer call the police and say I just killed someone can you come and dispose of the body? Don’t Judge this man. It was an unfortunate accident to which there is no happy ending. Let this man grieve in peace.


  3. I have one question. Where was the dog found when Kerry showed up to dispose of the body? Was the dog found hanging from the door?


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