On February 14, the assistant warden at the Gallia Co pound in OH allegedly killed 11 dogs via heartstick without proper sedation. Ohio code states that heartstick may only be used “on a sedated or unconscious animal”. The Gallia Co sheriff investigated the matter and the assistant dog warden was reassigned to a different county department during that investigation.
Gallia County Commission President David Smith says the shelter is not a no-kill shelter, and it’s unclear at this point if anything wrong was done.
Although wrongdoing wasn’t clear to the county commissioner at the time, it’s crystal clear to everyone now:
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 in connection with the Feb. 14 deaths of several dogs at the Gallia County Animal Shelter. Former dog warden Jean L. Daniels was also charged with 13 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the investigation.
The 57 cruelty charges stem from illegal killing protocols at the Gallia Co pound – specifically injecting sodium pentobarbital into a shoulder or hip muscle of shelter pets before injecting it into the heart muscle.
“When administered directly into the muscles of an animal, sodium pentobarbital is widely believed to cause intense pain,” [Gallipolis city solicitor Adam] Salisbury said. “The practice of injecting this drug into the muscles of an animal is specifically labelled an ‘unacceptable practice’ by the American Humane Association.”
Salisbury said Simmer, Harris and Daniels each attended a training session sponsored by the American Humane Association and earned a certificate allowing them to euthanize animals by injection.
David Balz, Ohio-certified euthanasia instructor and director of the Wyandot County Humane Society, agreed that the reason the practice is deemed unacceptable is due to the needless pain inflicted on the animal and also told me he makes a point of emphasizing this during training:
The students are taught, among many other things, that IC [intra-cardiac] can be used as a route of administration for euthanasia with sodium pentobarbital only on animals that are unconscious to the point of no longer feeling pain. They are taught that sodium pentobarbital injected outside a vein causes pain, and burns because it is a sodium “salt.” Every final exam that I have administered over the last 15 years actually has a test question concerning this issue, and if they attended any AHA or HSUS or Ohio State Veterinary Board approved course, they were taught this fact. An intramuscular injection of sodium pentobarbital is not only an unacceptable practice, but would appear in my opinion to violate the Ohio laws regarding euthanasia of animals in an animal shelter as well as the animal cruelty statutes.
Gallia Co prosecutor Jeff Adkins reportedly found no felony violations pursuant to the investigation. This article cites a 2 year statute of limitations on misdemeanors in Ohio and Mr. Salisbury appears to have done a thorough job investigating the case, going back the full 2 years to encompass all violations. This is a big deal. We so often see animal cruelty cases treated far too lightly or dismissed entirely. Mr. Salisbury appears to have taken this task seriously and in so doing, has given a voice to the many victims in this case, well beyond the 11 dogs who suffered needlessly on February 14. If you want to drop him a brief note of thanks, his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gallia Co commission is set to release a statement today regarding the employment of the two current dog wardens.
(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the links.)