Dog warden Paul L. Simmers faces 32 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty in the deaths of 11 dogs and the procedures used to euthanize the animals at Ohio's Gallia County Animal Shelter, stated the complaint on Friday at the Gallipolis Municipal Court reported mydailyregister.com.
Also charged were an assistant, Jason Harris, with 12 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty, and former dog warden, Jean L. Davis with 13 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty.
On Valentine's Day, the Friends of Gallia County Animal Shelter posted about the deaths of the dogs who already had adoption commitments as well as all of their needed vaccinations before being transferred to their new homes:
"Well, I am getting ready to take another transport to Northeast. I think the count is 66 or 67 dogs whose lives will be saved. That is the good news. The bad news is that 11 dogs were euthanized at the pound this morning because the assistant warden couldn't wait a day for us to clean the facilities from the dogs who are leaving. We pull them out as fast as we can and find rescue organizations who will accept them but this time we were not fast enough. I am heartbroken, this is a terrible way to die."
Although the Gallia County Animal Shelter is known as a high-kill shelter, volunteers had been successful transporting many of the pets to out of town adopters.
The Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals launched their own investigation into the deaths of the dogs, including rumors of dogs being brutally killed by "heart stick" injections; a procedure where sodium pentobarbital is injected directly into the heart of the animal. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the "heart stick" method should only be used on heavily sedated or unconscious animals.
Simmers has been charged with injecting sodium pentobarbital into the shoulder and hip areas of the dogs to sedate them. Experts state those injections cause excruciating pain to the animals when injected into muscles and is considered an "unacceptable practice."
The charges against Simmer, Daniel and Harris range from March 16, 2012, to Feb. 14, 2014
More than 3,300 people signed a petition to remove Jason Harris as the assistant dog warden citing the following heartbreaking statements:
"Did Mr. Harris choose to kill aggressive dogs? No! He killed two dogs with such stellar temperaments that they had been fully sponsored for vetting by local people. He killed dogs who were friendly to cats, kids, to other dogs large and small and friendly to all adults. He killed dogs who were leash trained and who knew a few commands. He killed the sweetest and gentlest souls at the pound!!!!"
If found guilty, each charge carries a maximum punishment of 90 days in jail, $750 in fines, five year probation, and 200 hours of community service.
"Many thanks to the Friends of Gallia County Animal Services for not giving up," stated Connie Sevarie of Miami Beach, Fla. who has been following the case closely since February.
The three are scheduled for another court hearing March 25.
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