3 plead not guilty to dog deaths

By Michael Johnson

March 25, 2014

GALLIPOLIS – Three Gallia County residents charged with multiple counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty entered not guilty pleas Tuesday in Gallipolis Municipal Court.

Paul Simmers, Jason Harris and Jean Daniels were scheduled to appear Tuesday afternoon before Municipal Court Judge Margaret Evans for arraignment hearings after they were charged earlier this month in connection with the deaths of 11 dogs at the Gallia County Animal Shelter.

Charges were filed March 14 exactly one month after the dogs, Gallipolis City Solicitor Adam R. Salisbury said, were improperly euthanized at the shelter. According to the Friends of Gallia County’s Animals, a local rescue group, the dogs had been vaccinated and were in the process of being adopted when the deaths occurred.

Simmers, the county’s dog warden, faces 32 counts of animal cruelty. His former assistant, Harris, faces 12 counts, while Daniels, a former county dog warden, faces 13 counts. All charges are for misdemeanor animal cruelty in the second degree.

It is alleged, according to Salisbury’s investigation, that the trio negligently caused unnecessary pain and suffering to dogs being euthanized at the animal shelter in the 100 block of Shawnee Lane. Salisbury alleges they didn’t follow the correct procedure during the euthanasia process, which caused the animals to suffer unnecessary pain.

The case came to light shortly after Feb. 14 when the Grove City-based Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals said it planned to “fully investigate” the deaths of the 11 dogs.

The alleged animal cruelty occurred between March 16, 2012, to Feb. 14, 2014. Each charge, according to Salisbury, is punishable by up to 90 days incarceration, a $750 fine, five years’ probation and 200 hours of community service.

If convicted, Simmers faces almost eight years in prison and $24,000 in fines. Harris faces almost three years in jail and $9,000 in fines, while Daniels faces slightly more than three years in jail and $9,750 in fines.

Harris’ pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 1, while Simmers’ pre-trial hearing takes place at 9:30 a.m. the same day. Daniels’ pre-trial hearing, as of press time, has yet to be scheduled..

Simmers is being represented by Gallipolis attorney William N. Eachus. Harris is represented by William S. Cole of Jackson, and Daniels is represented by Amy L. Fogelman of Batavia.