A shocking discovery of hundreds of dog carcasses buried in shallow graves behind the Morgan County Dog Pound after a tip to the Ohio SPCA has officials and residents upset and angry.
“It’s a mess. It’s a sad story. It’s a very sad statement that anyone would permit this to go on,” Ed Sisler, president of the Ohio SPCA. said.
“I’m shocked. I’m appalled. I’m speechless about it,” said Morgan County Commissioner Rick Shriver. “I just can’t express to you my outrage and my disappointment.”
Jeff Driggs who has been the part-time Morgan county dog warden for more than 20 years as well as a full-time highway department employee has been placed on unpaid administrative leave after the mass grave came to light. This is also not the first time the Driggs has come under fire for practices at the Morgan County Dog Pound. In 2002 he admitted to killing more than 600 dogs and puppies by shooting them in the head, rather than using the more acceptable and humane method of lethal injection. Public outcry put this to an end, or so it was thought.
At the time it was thought that problems had been handled with Driggs and there would be no future improprieties, no such luck! There have been complaints about his methods and attitude from residents as well and now this.
SPCA received complaints from residents that Driggs was killing dogs by shooting again as he’d done in the past and when they investigated, they found much more then even they anticipated.
“When we got there there were no dogs in the pound,” she said. “Everything had been killed, probably on Friday night. We found a mother dog and her five puppies dead a couple of inches under the ground. Everywhere we walked we were walking on dead dogs. Heads were sticking out, paws were sticking out and bones were exposed. Hundreds of dogs had been buried there,” said Teresa Landon, executive director of the Ohio SPCA.
There is also a worry that if the dogs were killed by lethal injection and buried, the toxic chemicals could have leaked into the ground which is why euthanized animals have to be cremated. The mass grave is located on the banks of the Muskingham River and the EPA has been contacted to conduct tests on the soil and water because of the toxins.
“We are not trying to hide anything,” Commissioner Rick Shriver said. “We’re not covering anything up. We are absolutely committed to doing what we need to do to remedy the situation.
“We see the vet bills that come across the desk every week for the charges for the lethal injections,” Shriver said. He, like other officials, was told and thought the remains were being disposed of properly and said that this was unacceptable.
Some of the soil used to fill the grave had washed away, and predatory animals dragged the decaying remains from the site, which is about 400 feet from the river.
Recent flooding also might have washed some of the remains into the river’s flood basin, which is a health concern for area residents, said Ed Sisler, president of the Ohio SPCA.
“These remains end up in the river, and you have catfish feeding on them. Fishermen are catching these catfish and eating them,” Sisler said. “This is so appalling that I just can’t imagine anyone feeling that this is ethical.”
“It’s something that we’re following up on,” Heather Lauer, spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA, said of the SPCA’s e-mail complaint. She noted that the dog pound is not licensed by the state as a composting facility.
Upon inspection of some of the carcasses, some were found to have been euthanized by lethal injection but other were found to have been shot in the head.
The Morgan County prosecutor’s office is working to determine the legal way to dispose of the pound’s animals after they’ve been euthanized, Shriver said.
So far there’s been no comments from Driggs who will remain on unpaid leave while this whole fiasco is investigated.
Personally I’d like to see him lose his cushy county job and be brought up on charges of animal cruelty although sadly it’s not illegal to shot dogs in Ohio. He should also be prosecuted for improper disposal and more if there’s found to be contamination by the EPA. I’d like to see a lot more than this but that’s my anger over this whole thing speaking out. What a cruel, heartless and thoughtless person!