UPDATE: Two Enter No Contest Pleas in Animal Cruelty Case

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 6/19/14 @ 3:15 p.m.
GALLIPOLIS, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The current and former warden at the Gallia County Dog Shelter have pleaded no contest to an animal cruelty charge.

Current warden, Paul L. Simmers, and former warden, Jean A. Daniels, made no contest pleas on Tuesday, according to Gallipolis Municipal Court documents. That means they accept the punishment, but do not admit to committing the violations.

The other 31 violations against Simmers and 11 violations against Harris were dismissed.

The two, along with assistant warden Jason Harris, were charged by the Gallipolis City Solicitor following complaints that 11 dogs were put down inhumanely at the shelter in February.

The alleged crimes happened between March 2012 and February 2014. There is a two year statute of limitations for misdemeanors in Ohio.

Simmers and Daniels will pay a $25 fine and court costs. They will also both take a 16-hour course with the American Humane Association.

Harris is scheduled to be back in court next month.

UPDATE 3/26/14
GALLIPOLIS, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The Gallia County Dog Warden, Assistant Warden and a former warden each charged with multiple counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty have submitted written not guilty pleas to the charges against them

The charges against Paul L. Simmers, the current warden, Jason Harris, the assistant warden, and Jean A. Daniels, a former warden, were filed by the Gallipolis City Solicitor earlier this month.

The Solicitor charged Simmers with 32 violations, Harris with 12 violations and Daniels with 13 violations.

The alleged crimes happened between March 2012 and February 2014. There is a two year statute of limitations for misdemeanors in Ohio.

The actions of the dog wardens were brought to light after accusations that 11 dogs were put down inhumanely at the shelter last month.

Simmers and Harris are currently on paid administrative leave from their jobs at the shelter.

Municipal Court documents say Simmers' trial is set for May 16. He will be back in court for a pretrial on April 1.

Harris also has a pretrial April 1, but a trial date has not been set.

No court dates have been set for Daniels.

GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The Ohio SPCA has released findings from their investigation into the improper euthanization of 11 dogs at the Gallia County Animal Shelter.

The report says the dogs' bodies were taken to the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine for necropsy.

Results showed that a euthanasia solution had been injected into the heart and lungs of the dogs. Additional results showed body changes compatible with blunt thoracic and head trauma.

Shelter volunteer Dianna Ahmen said she was shocked by the allegations.

"I was devastated that the animals went through and had to go through something like that," Ahmen said.

The SPCA's report included witness testimony that said, "No sedation was ever used, and many times dogs were stabbed with a needle more than once. Dogs would often stagger about the room for up to 30 minutes until they died."

The Gallipolis city solicitor has charged the former dog warden Jean Daniels and current wardens Paul Simmers and Jason Harris with dozens of counts of animal cruelty.

"Jason is saying that he came in to put one dog down that was scheduled to be put down, but that he got into a 'zone' and just kept killing," Ahmen said about the day the 11 dogs were killed.

Paul Simmers gave a statement to WSAZ.com saying, "I was not involved in the killing of the 11 dogs. I was the one that reported it to the commissioners. It's a terrible thing,"

Ahmen along with others don't think all three wardens should be charged.

In fact, Nathan Weatherholt with the rescue group Friends of Gallia County's Animals says Daniels was vital to lowering the shelter's kill rate.

"We had a terrible rate at the shelter. Jean Daniels single handedly brought rescues into this shelter," Weatherholt said.

All three wardens have been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. The current wardens and assistant warden, Harris and Simmers, have been put on paid administrative leave. The county has put an interim warden into place for the time being.

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