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Herman hears from vets in dog case

January 18, 2012

Auglaize County Municipal Judge Gary Herman

ST. MARYS — The age of a dog at the center of civil suit determining ownership spiraled into the organization defending its right to maintain a three-day ownership rule and the questioning of a Wapakoneta organization’s non-profit status.

Auglaize County Municipal Judge Gary Herman heard witness testimony for more than three hours Tuesday and was forced to schedule the case continued until 1:30 p.m. Feb. 7.

Herman heard testimony from three veterinarians as well as Humane Society of Auglaize County Director and President Sandra Harrison regarding

the ownership of a dog in a civil suit filed April 7 by Timothy Scott Workman, of Montezuma, against the Wapakoneta organization.

As part of the April 7 filing, Workman sought an order of possession of a Peckingese dog that he claimed as his and asked for a restraining order to ban the shelter from neutering or adopting out the pet. The restraining order was granted by the court, but Herman ruled that the Humane Society will keep temporary custody of a while the case is heard. The dog has been in their custody since March of last year.

Harrison’s attorney Rob Wiesenmayer II and Workman’s attorney Quentin Derryberry II questioned the three veterinarians regarding the age of the dog of the Peckingese and the process by which they determined the dog’s age. Harrison claims the dog approximately three years old, making the dog is too young to be Workman’s.

Area veterinarian Dr. Brandy Liles testified she determined the dog to be approximately two to three years old, and Dr. Ann Midgarden testified the dog to be between one to two years.

Dr. Craig Miesse gave a broader range of the dog’s age. He said that a close guess on the animal’s age could not be made without knowing further details of the dog such as its health history.

During their testimony, all three veterinarians testified that the pet had not shown any signs of nuclear schlerosis, which is key in determining a dog’s approximate age. However, Midgarden and Liles testified that the condition sets in at approximately five years of age, while Miesse gave a seven-year figure.

Teeth condition of dogs is also used in determining approximate age of dogs. All three vets testified that the dog’s teeth were in good condition with no or little signs of tartar. However, tartar build-up on a dog’s teeth can also be contributed to a dog’s care and make it difficult to age.

All three veterinarians admitted they were guessing at the dog’s age and were giving only educated opinions since determining a dog’s age by teeth and other means is not an exact science.

Derryberry also argued weight discrepancies as the dog has been measured at different weights.

The pet was not available at the court appearance despite a subpoena by Herman. Harrison testified that the dog was at a foster home in Lima but would not release further information on the dog’s location.

With Harrison on the stand, Derryberry questioned the Humane Society’s ability to be operating and presented evidence that their non-profit status had been cancelled Jan. 16, 2001. it was reinstated on April 25, 2011. Harrison testified that the filings were an oversight and had earlier provided documents to the court that the Humane Society’s status was in good standing with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

Wiesenmayer objected to the questioning of the Humane Society’s ability to operate. Derryberry said the information had not been entered into evidence and had not been made available through discovery requests.

Wiesenmayer argued that he believed reinstate rules in the Ohio Revised Code kept the Humane Society’s status legal.

Herman became visibly upset with the situation.

“I don’t see an issue here,” Herman said. “We just wasted a half-hour of the court’s time. Why was no discover given.”

Herman said it appeared the corporation was legally valid.

Derryberry disagreed with the court’s interpretation and said that he wanted the question documented as a matter of record in the case.

During her testimony, Harrison said Humane Society of Auglaize County, based in Wapakoneta, came in possession of the dog when it was left in an outdoor kennel at the Humane Society.

Derryberry also questioned the Humane Society’s legal claim to the dog.

Harrison said that per policy, the dog became the property of the Humane Society after 72 hours. She said Humane Society operated as the county dog warden until 2008 and the Ohio Revised Code permits the warden to claim ownership after that three-day period.

She explained while they were no longer the county dog warden, Ohio Revised Code allowed them to set policy and they had kept the three-day rule.

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