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Published: Wednesday, 3/8/2006

Seneca warden fired over euthanized pet

TIFFIN - The Seneca County commissioners yesterday fired Dog Warden Lonnie Jaynes and accepted the resignation of Assistant Dog Warden William O'Conner over allegations that the employees had a pit bull euthanized three days after telling its owner the animal wasn't at the pound.

Commissioner David Sauber said he and colleagues Ben Nutter and Joseph Schock voted to terminate Mr. Jaynes after discussing the matter in executive session. Mr. O'Conner resigned before the commissioners met yesterday.

"When the owner questioned what happened to the dog, both individuals weren't forthcoming with the truth," Mr. Schock said.

Mr. Sauber said Mr. Jaynes and Mr. O'Conner had a veterinarian euthanize the dog Thursday, four days after the assistant dog warden picked up the 2 1/2-year-old male outside a home on County Road 21 near Republic.

A resident called the sheriff's office Feb. 26 and complained that a brown dog was menacing her and her dogs, Mr. Sauber said. Mr. O'Conner arrived, found the brown dog loose, and took the animal to the pound.

Mr. Sauber said the dog's owner, Vincent Fries, called the pound Monday morning to ask if his pet was there, as did Mr. Fries' father, Thomas. Mr. O'Conner told both of them no, the commissioner said.

A neighbor later told Vincent Fries that his dog had been picked up, Mr. Sauber said, adding that Mr. Fries went to the pound last Friday and confronted Mr. Jaynes, who told him the dog wasn't there.

Later that day, Mr. Fries filed an incident report with the commissioners' office. "He was very upset," Mr. Sauber said.

Mr. Fries could not be reached for comment last night.

Mr. Sauber said county policy allows a dog to be euthanized if it is left at the pound longer than three days without any contact from the owner. "In this case, the owner called," Mr. Sauber said. "We didn't give him the opportunity to come in. The dog was put down without their knowledge. ... This is going to be pending litigation, probably."

Mr. Sauber and Mr. Schock said the matter has been referred to the Seneca County Prosecutor's Office and turned over to the sheriff's office for investigation.

In a statement e-mailed to The Blade, Mr. Jaynes acknowledged making a mistake but questioned the county's decision to terminate him.

"This misfortune in my judgment and the attempt to correct the mistake has obviously caused me the loss of my employment," he wrote. "After realizing the wrong, I immediately contacted my supervisor, Commissioner Dave Sauber, and explained the situation. I was taught that honesty was the best policy, and now I question that."

Mr. Jaynes, who was paid $13.39 an hour, became dog warden in April, 2005. Mr. O'Conner, who worked at the pound for about three years, was paid $11.47 an hour.

For the time being, Mr. Sauber will oversee the dog pound, which now has no employees. He said he planned today to ask the Seneca County Humane Society to help find homes for the 13 dogs left in the pound.

Sheriff's deputies and police departments around the county will be asked to respond to emergency dog complaints until a new dog warden is hired.



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