GALLIPOLIS – The Gallia County Commissioners on Monday placed two employees on suspension in connection with the Feb. 14 euthanizations of 11 dogs at the Gallia County Animal Shelter.
Dog Warden Paul Simmers and Assistant Dog Warden Jason Harris were both placed on paid administrative leave Monday morning because of animal cruelty charges filed against them Friday by Gallipolis City Solicitor Adam R. Salisbury.
Simmers faces 32 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty, while Harris is charged with 12 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty.
A third person, Jean L. Daniels, a former county dog warden, was also charged with 13 counts of second-degree animal cruelty.
According to a press release from the Gallia County Commissioners, “The use of paid administrative leave and the opportunity to respond to allegations at a pre-disciplinary conference are required by law before any disciplinary action can be taken. The Commissioners will continue to further investigate the situation in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office. Upon the completion of the investigation, the Commissioner’s Office will move swiftly if disciplinary action is warranted.”
Commissioner Harold Montgomery said the animal shelter is still operational. Tom Halfhill, the county’s building superintendent, will help oversee its operation while Jeff Hash was hired last Thursday as assistant dog warden. During the investigation phase, county commissioners said Harris had been reassigned from the animal shelter to a maintenance crew at the courthouse, creating the vacancy for assistant dog warden.
Halfhill is a former Gallia County dog warden who the commissioners’ office said “knows the procedures” because “he used to do this years ago.” They said Halfhill will continue his duties as building supervisor.