This past Friday, Former Pike County (Ohio) Dog Warden Randy Mustard was found not guilty on 11 counts of animal cruelty.
“A Pike County man in charge of protecting and caring for dogs is accused of stuffing a dog and puppies in a bag after unsuccessfully attempting to euthanize the puppies.
Pike County Dog Warden Randy Mustard is charged with 11 counts of cruelty to animals, according to the Pike County sheriff’s office, one count for each puppy.
A woman came to the Pike County Dog Pound to find her own lost dog and heard the puppies crying, Major Jeremy Masters told NBC4. When she investigated, she found a dead mother dog and 11 live puppies stuffed in a black trash bag at the pound.
Sandy Caldwell runs Save Ohio Strays, a shelter in Wadsworth. She told NBC4 that in 2006, she had a run-in with Mustard when she traveled to Pike County to pick up puppies.
She claims puppies were left living in deplorable conditions, including standing in crates with their own feces and urine and living without water or food in severe summer heat for 15 hours.”
I’m especially invested in this story because one of our dogs, Raina, was rescued from Pike County Dog Pound by volunteers with Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League in November. She was one of the lucky ones, to say the least.
Many people, myself included, thought since Mustard was fired, the poor dogs at Pike County would now be taken care of. Not until visiting the pound in person a week ago did I witness firsthand that Pike County Dog Pound is still no place for any animal to live. They are STILL chained up to a fence outside, their own waste all around them, with some showing signs of mange and flystrike.
There are questions we, as Ohioans, as animal caretakers, and as morally responsible humans NEED to ask now. Here are some to start with:
- Did Randy Mustard meet all the requirements of a “responsible person for an approved animal shelter” as required by Ohio law?
- Was Randy Mustard a “euthanasia technician”, as required by Ohio law?
- Why is the standard of care so disparagingly, disgustingly, low for county animal shelters? (Don’t get me started on the fact that the minimum standard of care for dogs and cats is still exceedingly higher than farm animals— speciesism at its best— that’s another rant entirely.)
- I hear all the time “that’s how all the rural shelters are, they just don’t have the resources.” I understand that. I know how the money supply works and where animals rank on the taxpayer funded totem pole. But that’s not acceptable and it’s certainly not an excuse. If counties can’t meet the basic needs of these unwanted animals, why are they even operating facilities under the guise of “shelters”? Would this be an acceptable way to deal with unwanted, orphaned humans?
- The ultimate question, of course: what can we do to remedy this situation? How can we provide immediate care for these unwanted animals in poor, rural communities, while simultaneously addressing the root cause of the issue— dog breeding and overpopulation?
I certainly don’t have the answers, but I’m hoping if we start a discussion and shine more light on this issue, positive changes can be made. Just because a story fades from the headlines does not mean all is well.