GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Commission hopes to create a committee to help improve communication and oversight at the county’s animal shelter.
According to Commission President David K. Smith, the Gallia County Canine Management Committee would be made up of the vice president of the county commission — Brent Saunders — as the committee’s chair; County Administrator Karen Sprague; the county’s dog warden; a representative from the county health department; a local veterinarian; and a representative of the Friends of Gallia County’s Animals.
Smith said it will be a permanent committee serving as a liaison between the animal shelter and the county commission.
“After all that has happened (at the animal shelter), I think we all agree that improved communication is needed for the supervision of things out there,” he said.
Smith was referring to the Feb. 14 incident in which 11 dogs — reportedly vaccinated and bound for new homes — were euthanized at the Gallia County Animal Shelter. Three people have since been charged with 57 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Dog Warden Paul Simmers faces 32 counts, while his one-time assistant Jason Harris, is charged with 12 counts. A third person, Jean L. Daniels, a former county dog warden, faces 13 counts stemming from an investigation that ranges from March 2012 to February 2014.
“I’d like to see this group form fairly quickly,” Smith said of the committee. “Hopefully within the next week or so. It’s instrumental and it needs to happen.”
The committee’s initial focus, Smith said, is to work on communication issues between the commissioners, the shelter and other groups interested in the shelter’s activities.
“We will work to identify our shortcomings and address them,” he said. “Nobody wants (the Feb. 14 animal shelter incident) to happen again. If you talk to any county commissioner across the state of Ohio, no one wants to deal with this problem. But it’s on our desk and we have to do it, and we’ll do the best we can.”
Smith said inserting “canine” into the committee’s name was important to reflect the diversity of the group’s proposed membership.
“We didn’t want ‘dog shelter’ because it’s much more encompassing than that,” he said. “We’re looking to raise awareness and make sure the communication is there. We don’t want failures in the system.”
Sprague, who was not present for the meeting, said in a statement that she “looks forward to bringing this committee together and becoming a team for the betterment of our community.”