37 Dogs Gassed Due to Suspected Skin Mites

Ruth Wilder lives in Brown County, Ohio.  She has several acres of property and regularly picks up stray dogs in order to care for them:

“They’re like my babies, like my family you know.”

Yes, we do.

In response to a complaint made about the 47 dogs on Ms. Wilder’s property on January 10, the Brown Co dog warden, Andrew Dunn, seized 37 of her dogs on February 10.  According to Mr. Dunn, “the condition of the dogs and the property indicated the animals were not properly cared for”.  The 10 dogs who were licensed were allowed to stay with the owner:

The remaining 37 were unlicensed and had clear physical illnesses Dunn believed to be mange.

“Some were missing basically all of their hair, and some were very aggressive,” Dunn said.

In part to prevent the large number of ill dogs from contaminating healthy, adoptable animals housed at the shelter, Dunn said the decision was made to euthanize the dogs on the same day they were removed from the Scoffield Road home.

And by “euthanize”, Mr. Dunn means gassed to death in a homemade gas chamber.  (Video of the gas chamber here.)

Mr Dunn told a local news reporter that “his decision came down to the fact that he didn’t have space or budget to take care of 37 dogs, and he believed them to possibly be contagious.”

No veterinary diagnosis, no reaching out to the rescue community for assistance, no offer to assist the owner in seeking veterinary care.  Depending on the diagnosis and the breeds of dogs involved, it’s possible all 47 could have been dosed with an inexpensive bottle of Ivomec.  In any case, possible mange does not render a dog medically hopeless and suffering which is the only scenario where the word “euthanasia” would apply.  These 37 dogs were killed.  Cruelly and needlessly.

The Ohio SPCA sent a letter to the county commissioners demanding the shelter stop using the homemade gas chamber and requesting copies of shelter records as they believe the dogs were seized without a warrant.

The Brown County Commissioners tell us they thought the dog warden had quit using the gas chamber months ago. They were surprised to find it in use again and say they’ve instructed Andrew Dunn not to use it in the future.

The Ohio SPCA appears to be serious about pursuing the case:

[Ohio SPCA Executive Director Teresa] Landon said the homemade gas box violates state law, and the demand to cease and desist also asserts the device violates sections 955.15 and 959.06 of Ohio Revised Code.

Landon also said the local humane society or other animal shelters could have helped to hold the animals if there was a need to quarantine them from other dogs at the shelter.

I feel for Ms. Wilder, especially when she told a news reporter:

“I’m angry but I’m afraid to say anything,” Wilder said.

I can only imagine how scared she must be that the dog warden might come back for her remaining 10 dogs if she speaks out or takes action to advocate for her dead dogs.  I hope the Ohio SPCA is able to get justice for the dogs and, if it’s accurate that the dog warden seized the dogs unlawfully, hopefully the SPCA’s actions will at least give him pause before he attempts to steal and kill anyone else’s pets.

Thank you Clarice and Laura for sending me info on this case.

25 thoughts on “37 Dogs Gassed Due to Suspected Skin Mites

  1. So…the unlicensed dogs were clearly uncared for and the licensed dogs were healthy and cared for enough to leave with the owner? Anyone else find this suspicious?

    1. Yeah the warden kinda addressed that in one of the articles saying something like the other 10 were not AS bad. Gee what a coincidence, all 10 of the licensed ones were passable enough to stay with the owner.

    2. this is not the info on this case.its all wrong and over half of the story is here.plz email me for the full story

  2. Without even opening the link to the homemade gas chamber I vomited reading about this horrible situation. Unfortunately I am sure it is not an isolated incident and similar actions are played out daily by animal controls all across the country. I know it could easily happen in my county – no warrent, no vet, no requests to rescues. Just bullying tactics that of course leave the poor owner scared to death that they will retaliate if she speaks up. Thanks to the Ohio SPCA for not letting this be swept under the rug, like unfortunately it would be in so many locales. God Bless Ruth Wilder and RIP little innocent ones.

  3. Some dogs were “very aggressive”, too. Hmm. I looked at the video and the woman seems to be just a little old lady…amazing how she could handle “very aggressive” dogs all on her own.

    1. Right? And chasing them down when they are loose on the road I bet is no picnic either when they are “very aggressive”. I’m guessing they might have been barking at the dog warden and probably protested at being shoved in the gas shack. You know if one of them had actually bitten anybody (which I wouldn’t blame the dog if they did), the warden would have told that to the media.

      1. Perhaps he’s one of the many dog-ignorant people that can’t tell the difference between ‘fear’ and ‘real aggression’ in a dog.

      1. this is my mom and i was there.they put 4 to 5 dogs in a birdcage.thats right a birdcage.in the photo of the gas box you can see the cages stacked up behind it.there is a birdcage and several rabbit cages.see the big blue box?he had 9 medium size dogs inside of it.he mistreated and injured some of the dogs dragging them out of cages by the neck.they were not many or sick.but the ppl will never know the truth cause he dumped them in the rumpke landfill and nobody knows that he dumped them there.

  4. So sad that these dogs had to die and horrible in how they were killed.

    Why didn’t anyone demand the gas chamber be destroyed instead of just not using it anymore?

    Do they really have enough dog rescuers around that could have saved all or even some of these dogs?

    I know of a lady in Amite, Louisiana that has too many pets and can no longer care for them. Some call her an animal hoarder. But she is asking for help and wants these pets to go to good loving homes.

    After contacting many rescue groups, three small rescue groups took some of the dogs (13 I think), a guinea pig, and one of the cats.

    The remaining animals are in a house that is falling down. I posted about these animals (more than once and in more than one place), but can NOT get any other pet rescuers to take any of the pets still there.

    Should I now call the animal control knowing that they will more likely just kill them all?

    Here is one of the dogs that is still needed a rescuer: Trixie – Animal News & Info – Picasa Web Albums – https://picasaweb.google.com/AnimalNewsInfo/Trixie#

    What would you do?

    1. If a transport can be sponsored to get this dog, Trixie, to NY, we would take her and get her medical care, etc. She looks like such a sweet soul. Contact me prvately.

    2. I’d be very, very careful.

      A lot of people have lost all their animals, after begging for *help* from rescues when life has overtaken their energies.

      Sounds like you are doing great, though, so I hope it all works out.

  5. Thank you for reporting about this. Suddenly my own area Animal Control seems downright kind and helpful. WHO is paying that guy’s salary?! Is he the son-in-law of the mayor or something?
    Dead is dead. How many of you think this gal’s 37 unlicensed dogs are better off now? What about the ten dogs she still has?!
    She got her dogs as strays, which basically means she’s been doing the ACO’s job! And this is the way he thanks her…

  6. What irks me is the owner HAD 47 dogs – was allowed to keep those that were licensed – but not the remaining 37 dogs that were unlicensed. What are the odds that the 37 dogs without licenses would be that bad off (if it was mange then it would have spread to ALL the dogs, it’s not like having on a license is a deterrent to mange). No warrant to confiscate the dogs – no hold period – just swoop in and deny a citizen due process of the law and confiscate and kill her dogs?!?! I am damn glad the Ohio SPCA got involved…I guess the complaints on this shelter piled up until they had no choice? This is one of those ‘small towns’ where people “talk” and there are people who are tight with governement officials in the area. I have talked to people that say complaints get made are rarely followed up on, that when (if ever) they do get a follow up done on a complaint that the situations is rarely handled correctly (like issuing a citation or giving the owner x number of days to fix whatever probelm there was), and that Mr. Dunn is basically on a power trip. I know that other groups have offered assistance to the Brown Shelter before (I think one of the related links talked about it as well), but Dunn has rarely, if ever, actually utilized the offered assistance.

    My heart goes out to this lady, especially as angry as she is and afraid to say anything for fear that Mr. Dunn will just show up again and take the rest of her dogs. I hope the SPCA spends time talking to area residents, as well as investigating the shelter records. This story is just the tip of the iceberg, from what I have heard, so we’ll probably be hearing more about this place.

    This is not the first time I have heard about ‘suspicious’ activities from this shelter. And by suspicious…I mean that I have talked to friends who have pulled dogs from here and they tell me that each the first time they went that ‘someone’ (I suspect Mr. Dunn) showed them the gas chamber, like he’s proud of it. When they’ve had discussions about euthanizing dogs they are told that it is done ‘the right way’ – but won’t confirm HOW. I also know that this shelter was told to destroy the gas chamber years ago…but claimed they needed it for extra storage space for ‘supplies’ – sure as hell didn’t look like they had any supplies in it to me! The saddest part of it is that, from everything I hear – to just go to this shelter is looks nice and inviting and you would never believe that things like this would happen there…but many rescues that I have talked to who have pulled dogs say that they felt that something just wasn’t right, but none of them could put their finger on it. Now I know why.

    Thank you for sharing this heart breaking story…I hope there will be a follow-up blog after the SPCA has had a chance to review the records and done their interviews. I would like to hear what they find….

    RIP poor doggies.

  7. I hope the Ohio SPCA really does follow up. I agree with the above posters about how 10 licensed dogs are allowed to stay, but the unlicensed dogs are forced to a horrific death. From what it sounds like they were too lazy to help her or the dogs. She has plenty of property to keep the dogs on. They instead of taking her dogs, could’ve assisted her. See if the local area vets would’ve been willing to help with medical costs. She obviously was feeding the dogs, but I don’t see anything saying the dogs were starving, nor is there a real concrete meaning to the words “overly aggressive.”

    Obviously the gentlemen who decided to murder the dogs has no conscious or heart. I feel bad for the woman who was just trying to help keep stray animals off the streets where they could be hit by vehicles or worse. In a sense she was doing the job of the warden without killing or harming a single dog. :( Hope something good can come from this — like the firing and destruction of the homemade chamber.

  8. I hope he isn’t allowed to keep animals himself. How about we try out his “gas chamber” on him.

  9. People have accused me of being negative about animal control, animal shelters and even rescue. But this kind of story isn’t nearly rare enough.

    I hope you are all right about SPCA, should they get involved. However, SPCA in some places is as bad as HSUS, and this sounds like the sort of case where they would concur that the animals were ‘unadoptable’, and that euthanasia was the right way to go. They are often disinclined to work with any animals who need actual care beyond basic maintenance, particularly if they aren’t fluffy little lapdogs or easily placed puppies.

    Consider their action, or rather, non-action earlier this year in the matter of the BC sled dogs.

    We badly need many more no-kill shelters, and some active means of support for those individuals like this woman who really care.

    1. I hope this helps – the SPCA in Ohio has been fairly good at investigating things just like this. I was actually happy to hear they got involved. They have already requested a ton of peperwork from this shelter – they will be very thorough in the investigation. While I don’t normally support the SPCA getting involved for similar reasons you stated, but in this case it is a good thing.

  10. one ot them was my daughters dog it wasnt mean and it was healthy..ruth is my mother in law..the dog warden came in with 2 pistols strapped on him which is illeagel in ohio

  11. This is absolutely horrible. This is WHAT HAPPENS when steepole give full police powers to psychosis that have never had police TRAINING & don’t have the intelligence to be a cop. This guy is a psycho – he gets his rocks off abusing these animals. A homemade gas CHAMBER. Dogs in bird cages. He says the 37 were aggressive. Ummmm maybe a better statement would be they were TRYING TO ACT in SELF DEFENSE!!!

    WHY HAS OHIO LEFT THIS POWER TRIPPING PSYCHO IN CHARGE OF THIS POUND FOR SO LONG?? HE is no different then the psycho that had that one starved pity on the rack last year. He is no better then the other psychosis the are hanging, spinning, or otherwise TORTURING ANIMALS!! LOCK HIM UP…
    OH & SOMEONE else says this woman is afraid. He should also be charged with terrorist threats. He went on her property with guns strapped to his waist- another CRIMINAL ACT!!

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