BIDWELL — The Gallia Sheriff’s Office along with the Gallia Dog Warden and area rescue volunteers teamed up to gather reportedly emaciated animals from a residence on State Route 588 Sunday afternoon as part of a search warrant.
Law enforcement retrieved six dogs from the property, five pigs, 19 chickens, two gerbils and two cats.
According to Gallia Chief of Deputies Troy Johnson, Deputy Amanda Wickline was the first of the sheriff’s office on scene at 7658 State Route 588. The sheriff’s office was tipped off by the Gallia Dog Warden Laurie Cardillo who was in turn tipped off by a concerned citizen who felt there were endangered animals on the property. Law enforcement reportedly observed several animals about the property in a malnourished state before the animals were ultimately collected. Some of those animals would be taken to New Beginnings Animal Center in Athens County. The cats would stay with local rescuers and the dogs would go with the dog warden.
“For someone to neglect and abuse a defenseless animal or a child is shameful and we as protectors of our county will not tolerate this type of inhumane behavior,” said Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin. “I’m proud our staff has stepped up and worked hand-in-hand with our fellow agencies in our county to save these animals.”
Johnson said charges are potentially pending through the Gallia Prosecutor’s Office as case information is reviewed. No arrests have been made but a pair of individuals are potentially being considered as persons of interest in the case.
“Chasing dogs can be kind of tricky because you’re never really sure how friendly they are or how much energy they have,” said Cardillo. “The same things definitely goes for chasing pigs and chickens. They didn’t go quietly.”
Cardillo said one cat reportedly died from health problems. Of the six dogs collected, a Jack Russell was in far better condition than the other five.
According to Cardillo, animal cruelty involving a companion animal can be considered a fifth-degree felony in Ohio. Companion animals are considered dogs or cats whether the animals are inside or outside. Any animal kept inside a residence is also considered a companion animal. Ohio started considering animal abuse cases as possible fifth-degree felonies in June of last year with the signing of Goddard’s Law. A felony case comes about if an individual reportedly knew he or she caused “serious physical harm” to a companion animal by means of depriving it of water, food, shelter or even causing long-term pain. Fifth-degree felonies in Ohio can carry a max of 12 months in prison with a max of $2,500 in fines.
If the investigation finds a violation of Goddard’s Law, it would be the first animal cruelty crime considered a felony in Gallia County.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.