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Gallia County assistant dog warden under investigation in deaths of dogs

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A Gallia County assistant dog warden has been suspended and reassigned to another position pending an investigation into the deaths of 11 dogs and in the procedure used to euthanize the dogs reports Tuesday's Ohio wsaz.com news.

Petfinder states the Gallia Animal Shelter is a high kill shelter, although the description also says the warden and assistant warden are friendly and concerned about the animals.

On Valentine's Day, the Friends of Gallia's County Animals posted on their Facebook:

"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."

Nathan Weatherholt, a member of the group's board, stated the dogs had all been vaccinated and several already had adoption commitments.

Also in contention is a report that the euthanasia was performed by heart stick without using sedation. Heart stick euthanasia involves a sodium pentobarbital filled syringe injected directly into the chest wall of an animal. If the placement of the needle is not exact and sensitive nerve endings are touched or a lung is punctured, the procedure is agonizing and inhumane. Sodium pentobarbital burns like acid.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, heart stick euthanasia should only be performed on heavily sedated, anesthetized or comatose animals. In Ohio, it is state law to sedate an animal before using a heart stick.

Gallia County Commissioner President David Smith does not know if any laws have been broken at this time. He states:

"Our assistant dog warden and our dog warden have been sent to schooling to learn the proper procedures. They receive a certificate, a license to do that. They have been trained the proper way to do those things."

A petition titled Remove Jason Harris as assistant dog warden and ban heart stick euthanasia has been started; more than 2,600 people have signed on in support.

The Gallia County Sheriff's Department is investigating.

Rest in peace Baby Girl, LadyAnne, Mabel, Seamus, Athena, and the other beautiful souls who were not named.

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