A Lucas County Dog Warden employee accused of abusing a dog in his custody is out of jail on bond and will likely have his paid administrative leave reinstated, said the county and his union.
Aaron Nova, 26, of 2635 Moline-Martin Rd., Lake Township, was arraigned Friday before Toledo Municpal Court Judge Donald Petroff, who was filling in for Judge Robert Christiansen, on one count of animal cruelty stemming from a video that shows him picking up a dog in a chokehold, slamming it against a kennel door, and throwing it into a kennel.
Mr. Nova was accompanied by his attorney Jerome Phillips, who entered a plea of not guilty. The case was sent to the scheduling office, which will set a pre-trial date next week.
When Mr. Nova was asked Friday if he would like to make a comment, his mother, Elizabeth Nova, who was accompanying him, declined on his behalf.
Mr. Nova was charged Aug. 7 with the second-degree misdemeanor stemming from a July 22 incident that was captured on video. The dog warden has 14 video cameras placed throughout the facility that record at all times.
Dog Warden Julie Lyle was reviewing the video on Aug. 4 when she came across the footage of Mr. Nova and the dog, who was named Marbles and has since been adopted.
Brian Cunningham, Lucas County human resources director, said Mr. Nova will be placed back on paid administrative leave as soon as the county receives paperwork from Mr. Nova's union stating that he has been released from jail.
“The reason for that is that the Ohio Revised Code doesn't permit us as a public employer to put an employee on unpaid admin leave unless the employee has been charged with a felony, and the animal-cruelty charge he is facing is a misdemeanor,” Mr. Cunningtham said. “If he has been released, then he is once again physically able to report to work, and as a result, it again becomes the employer's discretion to place him back on the administrative leave so that he does not report to work pending the outcome of his workplace disciplinary charges.”
Mr. Nova, who has worked at the pound since June 26, 2006, is paid $16.25 an hour.
Steve Kowalik, staff representative for Local 544 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Ohio Council 8, which represents dog warden employees, said that paperwork is in process.
“We are in the process of asking that his paid administrative leave be restored since he has been released from jail,” Mr. Kowalik said.
Mr. Nova is still a county employee and no further meetings are scheduled between the county and the union at this time, he said.
“Nothing else is going to happen until after his criminal trial, at least that's my hope,” Mr. Kowalik said.
The county's collective bargaining agreement with the union permits all disciplinary timetables to be extended with both parties' consent.
Mr. Nova was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 6 pending an investigation. The paid leave ceased Aug. 14 when Judge Christiansen declared the animal-abuse charge a violation of his probation for an unrelated domestic-violence conviction in May and sentenced him to six months in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, near Stryker. Mr. Nova had received a six-month suspended sentence on that conviction.
Mr. Phillips has appealed the trial-court decision to send his client to jail. The Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth Appellate District, Lucas County, granted Mr. Nova's application for suspension of execution of sentence pending the determination of his appeal.
The Appeals Court set bond at 10 percent of $5,000, which was paid by Mr. Nova's grandmother, Irene Funk, with whom Mr. Nova presently lives.