Stark County Administrator Michael Hanke spent the day with Stark County Dog Warden Department employees Friday to oversee their operations. Commissioners this week took the unusual step of sending Hanke to the dog pound Friday after they received multiple calls from residents outraged over a video taken last year that shows a deputy dog warden spraying a sedated stray dog with a hose.
The day with Stark County’s dog catchers started with six calls in a two-hour span. They chased a wily Doberman that dodged between city homes in the afternoon, and served as counselors for a woman whose cat had been killed by a dog a year ago.
Riding along with the deputy dog wardens for the first time was Stark County Administrator Michael Hanke. He was there to be the eyes and ears of the three county commissioners who oversee the Stark County Dog Warden Department.
Hanke described Friday’s ride-along as eye opening.
“It’s a more layered job than you might think,” Hanke said. “It’s not just running out and getting dogs.”
Commissioners this week took the unusual step of sending Hanke to the dog pound Friday to oversee its operations after they received multiple calls from residents outraged over a video taken last year that shows a deputy dog warden spraying a sedated stray dog with a hose. A handful of residents also attended the commissioners’ board meeting Wednesday to express their disgust over what they described as inhumane treatment of the dog. They had called for an investigation into the operations.
The video is from the dog pound’s surveillance system and was filmed July 25. It was posted online last week because Canton City Council is considering whether to retain the employee, Philip Sedlacko, as the city’s part-time animal control officer, which handles complaints about skunks, raccoons and feral cats. Sedlacko has held the city’s animal-control contract for about three years, but several animal advocates say the city shouldn’t retain him for another year because they believe he takes too many feral or stray cats and kittens to the Stark County Humane Society to be killed. They want the city to trap, neuter and release the animals instead.
Hanke plans to talk with commissioners individually next week about his observations, the concerns or improvements department employees shared with him, the conversations he had with residents, along with comments made by the pound volunteers, which Hanke described as all positive Friday. He said issues such as the building’s failing furnace and ventilation systems likely will be addressed with the board.
The board is not expected to rehash the July incident, as commissioners have said they consider the matter closed. Sedlacko, a 24-year county employee whose personnel file shows no other disciplinary actions related to his treatment of animals, was issued a written warning four days after he sprayed the sedated dog. The July 29 warning states Sedlacko violated the department’s policy that states employees will handle animals in a humane manner and that injured animals will be treated with extreme care and caution. Sedlacko had sedated the 50-pound shepherd mix with a tranquilizer dart when the stray dog acted aggressively and charged at him.
Page 2 of 2 - The dog died at an emergency animal clinic roughly 12 hours later due to internal bleeding caused by the dart striking an artery.
Canton City prosecutors determined they had insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.