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.