Serving all the communities of the Buckeye Lake Region

‘Watchdog’ sniffing around the pound


Continuing from my last letter, I now have the 2015 year end Mayor’s Court totals: Hebron – $34,778.50; Kirkersville – $63,199.95; Buckeye Lake – $132, 058.04.

I’m also continuing my reports on the dog pound. Please keep in mind that although my primary focus may appear to be on the pound, it is probably safe to say that what the employees/management at the pound are allowed to get away with is a good reflection on what other county departments, under the control of the commissioners, are most likely also allowed to get away with!

A job at the dog pound was recently posted on the Licking County Human Resources website and listed the job duties and requirements. One of those requirements was that the applicant hold a valid Ohio Driver’s license. However, after the job posting closed, a friend of a couple of the people at the pound was hired and the driver’s license requirement was removed. Although I don’t believe the requirement should have been removed, I do believe the job should have been re-posted after the license requirement was waived.

According to public records, the name of the person the pound hired was not listed among the names of the people who applied, but I did receive their application. The only work history listed on the application itself was a five year period ending in 2009 in which this person would have started working at the approximate age of 15.

One of the job duties of the Assistant Chief Dog Warden is that he “maintains mileage and maintenance logs on all vehicles.” I recently requested mileage and/or travel records and was told by Dog Warden David Shellhouse that there are none. Accounting for the mileage and use of county vehicles that are driven home by employees is an important record and necessary to prevent misuse and abuse of the privilege.

The February 9th commissioner’s minutes reflect that they “Discussed receipt of Notice of Hearing with the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy regarding an incident reported in February 2015 under the previous administration.” The “incident” was where they were caught euthanizing animals with expired drugs. (That was just prior to selling the van with guns and ammo still in it.)

I received a copy of the pound’s new policy manual in a records request. Here are some excerpts I find interesting and, in some cases, disturbing:

• Deputy Wardens will diligently patrol their assigned areas for loose dogs or other violations of Chapter 955 of the Ohio Revised Code. Deputy Wardens will not leave their assigned work areas unless directed to do so by the on-duty Radio Dispatcher or a Supervisor. If they do leave their assigned work area to assist another officer, they will advise the radio Dispatcher on duty. If a Deputy Warden needs to unload animals at the shelter prior to the end of their work shift, they will request permission to do so from the Radio Dispatcher on duty.

• Deputy Wardens will not return to the Licking County Animal Shelter during their work shift unless absolutely necessary.

• If a person at the shelter is threatening, abusive, causing a disturbance, or has assaulted any employee or another member of the public, either the Heath Police Department or Licking County Sheriff Department is to be summoned immediately to the scene. Deputy Wardens do not have arrest powers with respect to threats, assault, and/or disorderly conduct, and therefore are not to be summoned to deal with these individuals.

• When the kennel area of the vehicle temperatures reach a high above 84 degrees or low below 40 degrees, the warden will take the dogs to the shelter immediately. Officers will inform a supervisor regarding a climate control issue. A full unit or climate control problems are acceptable exceptions to bringing the dogs in prior to the end of the shift.

• Wardens are responsible for monitoring the temperatures at the back of their units and checking on each passenger animal at the end of every dispatched call, or every hour, whichever comes first. Passenger animals should never go more than one hour without being visually checked. (NOTE: Most humane societies do not recommend leaving a dog in a vehicle if the temperature is 70 degrees & above!)

• All employees will treat and handle animals in the most humane manner possible. Improper treatment of any animal will not be tolerated. Improper treatment includes, but is not limited to, yelling at animals, striking an animal, unnecessary use of mace, etc.

• At no time will a county vehicle be used for non-work related use. If you are unsure as to what constitutes work-related use, contact a Supervisor. Because of rotating work schedules vehicles will be driven home by the officers that live in Licking County. The vehicles will be available for out of county officers to pick up from in county officer’s residences when needed. Out of county officers are authorized to take the vehicle home when they are scheduled for on call duty if they live within 20 miles of Licking County. There will always be the appropriate number of vehicles at the shelter for each officer on duty to use. A fringe benefit tax will be assessed to each officer for use as transportation to work.

More in next week’s paper…

Bonnie Mansfield
Buckeye Lake

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