GALLIPOLIS — The executive director of the Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says the 11 dogs at the Gallia County Animal Shelter suffered head trauma and other injuries consistent with strangulation before they were euthanized on Feb. 14.
Teresa Landon said her organization obtained the 11 dog carcasses shortly after the Valentine’s Day event and sent them to Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine for necropsies, which indicated that many of the dogs suffered “body changes compatible with blunt thoracic and head trauma” before and during the euthanasia process.
“Several dogs were bleeding on the head or had blood coming out of their mouth,” she said. “They died horrible deaths.”
Landon would not say exactly who or how the Ohio SPCA obtained the dog carcasses, or from which Dumpster they were obtained.
“We got our hands on them,” she said. “They were bagged and placed in a Dumpster like they were trash.”
Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning said Friday that “we were not able to locate them” when asked about the location of the dogs’ remains.
“It is my understanding they placed them in the trash receptacle (Dumpster),” Browning said, although it was not clear into which Dumpster the dog carcasses would have been discarded. The Gallia County Animal Shelter presumably has a Dumpster located on its property in the 100 block of Shawnee Lane.
On Friday, three Gallia County residents – a former dog warden, a successor and an assistant – were charged with 57 counts of animal cruelty in connection with the investigation into the Valentine’s Day euthanizations.
County dog warden Paul L. Simmers faces 32 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty, while his former assistant Jason Harris is charged with 12 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty. Former dog warden Jean L. Daniels was also charged with 13 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty.
They are charged with negligently causing unnecessary pain and suffering to dogs being euthanized at the animal shelter in the 100 block of Shawnee Lane. They allegedly didn’t follow the correct procedure during the euthanasia process, which caused the animals to suffer unnecessary pain.
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 Daniel faces slightly more than three years in jail and $9,750 in fines. All three are scheduled to appear in Gallipolis Municipal Court at 1:30 p.m. March 25.
Gallipolis City Solicitor Adam Salisbury, who investigated the case for misdemeanor charges after Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins found no felony wrongdoing, said in a press release that Simmers allegedly injected sodium pentobarbital into the animals’ muscles – in the shoulder or hip areas – to sedate the dogs, then euthanized them with the “heart stick” method.
“There is no evidence of (the dogs) being injected (with sodium pentobarbital) in the muscles,” Landon said, citing OSU’s necropsy results. “They were injected in the heart and lungs.”
Although a “heart stick” procedure is approved by the Ohio Revised Code, it is a less preferred method of euthanasia and can “only be performed on a heavily sedated or unconscious animal,” Salisbury noted in his investigation.
It was not clear Saturday night if whoever took the dog carcasses from Gallia County could face charges. Browning said Saturday night that the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office “will have to look into it.”