On Tuesday morning, Feb. 3, Retired Judge Charles Steele sentenced former Ohio dog warden Richard Strunkenberg on two counts of Prohibitions concerning Companion Animals, WANE reports.
The charges stemmed from the sheriff declaring that animals were being kept in “unacceptable conditions” in the Van Wert County animal shelter that Strunkenberg was managing.
The dog warden was indicted in September on four felony counts of animal cruelty after an investigation into conditions at the county shelter found three dogs and six kittens dead in their kennels. Strunkenberg plead guilty to two of the felony counts in December.
The conditions in the shelter were so unsanitary that it appeared they had not been cleaned in weeks and some were unattended for several days, according to the Toledo Blade.
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Strunkenberg received a very complex sentence, which included serving three years under community control, 90 days jail with work release, followed by 90 days electronic house arrest, an additional 30 days jail time at a later date, 200 hours community service, and 2 years intensive probation. He was also ordered to pay court costs. Twelve months of concurrent prison time was deferred by Retired Judge Steele, reports WANE.
An investigation began on July 20, 2014, after a complaint by a citizen about the deplorable conditions in the shelter. Strunkenburg was fired by the County Commissioners on July 31 of that year, 10 days after he had been relieved of his duties and placed on paid administrative leave.
The Commissioners said Strunkenburg failed to provide adequate food and water, or to maintain cleanliness in the kennel and cage areas. The investigation also revealed that he had failed to follow proper procedure in handling dead animals, according to the Toledo Blade.
Sheriff Tom Riggenbach, who was assigned the responsibility for overseeing the operations of the shelter, said investigators found three dogs and six kittens dead in their kennels. It appeared that some of the animals may have been dead for as long as two or three days and had not been removed from the kennels.
The County Commission also was told that pets were not receiving veterinary care, even those who were ill when impounded.
Strunkenburg was the County’s sole humane law-enforcement agent, according to the Toledo Blade.
The Van Wert County Sheriff’s Department will take over full management of the animal shelter in 2015.