Gallia prosecutor reviewing dog deaths

By Michael Johnson

March 5, 2014

GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday concluded its investigation into the deaths last month of 11 dogs at the county animal shelter and has turned the case over to the prosecutor’s office.

Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning said he is asking Prosecutor Jeff Adkins to review the case to help determine if any wrongdoing occurred.

“Our part would be purely concentrating on the criminal aspect, if any did occur,” Browning said in a text message to the Daily Tribune.

For the past two weeks, the Gallia County Commission – overseers of the county animal shelter and its employees – has been seeking answers as to why 11 dogs were euthanized one day prior to a dog adoption event sponsored by the Friends of Gallia County’s Animals, a local animal group that promotes animal welfare, and provides assistance and care to displaced, abandoned, or abused animals. Group members say that all 11 dogs were killed despite being properly vaccinated and slated for adoptive families.

While no one has been officially charged in the dog deaths, the employee has been openly identified during county commission meetings as the assistant dog warden.

The commission, in a press release issued last week, said once they receive the report from the prosecutor, they will decide what personnel action will be taken, if any. Commissioners have said the employee in question has been reassigned to the maintenance crew at the Gallia County Courthouse.

Last week, commissioners said they are exploring several options to prevent future mass dog killings. One measure, according to commission president David K. Smith, is the installation of indoor and outdoor cameras at the Gallia County Animal Shelter.

The second measure, he said, involves obtaining the services of a licensed veterinarian to perform all future euthanizations in a controlled environment. Smith said the commission is currently negotiating with Dr. Brian Hendrickson, of Riverbend Animal Clinic in Gallipolis, to perform those procedures.

So far this year, 12 dogs have been euthanized at the Gallia County Animal Shelter – all of which occurred between Feb. 10 and Feb. 17, according to copies of the animal shelter’s canine weekly report provided to the Daily Tribune. The same report notes that only 20 dogs were “put down” all of last year. The commission has publicly credited Friends of Gallia County’s Animals with “keeping the numbers low.”