KOSCIUSKO — Petitions are circulating online calling for the removal of Jerry Clase as the Kosciusko County animal control officer after an Etna Green resident claimed Clase shot and killed her dog.
Sherry Koser said she was at work Wednesday, June 19, when her landlord allowed Clase to take Daisy, a 14-year-old boxer, after a complaint alleging animal neglect.
“I’ve had her 14 years,” said Koser. “I rescued her. I used to bottle feed her.”
Koser said when she came home from work, Daisy was gone. Koser asked her landlord about it and said the landlord told her that animal control had taken Daisy.
Koser then went to the shelter to look for Daisy but was unable to find her at the facility. Koser said someone from AWL called Kosciusko Dispatch, and they contacted Clase, who reportedly admitted he had taken Daisy, shot her and disposed of the body.
“He told me it was the humane thing to do and that she was better off,” said Koser.
According to Koser, Daisy had a tumor. Koser explained that her veterinarian told her they could perform surgery, but Koser said the surgery was going to be expensive. Dr. Tess Peavy, the executive director of nonprofit Public Veterinary Services, was in the process of helping Koser with funds to address Daisy’s condition.
“If the tumor was found to be cancerous, then I was going to have my vet lay her down because my vet said if it’s too bad then maybe it’s better just to lay her down. I was getting her help,” Koser stated. “That was my choice and he took that from me.”
“He came into my garage and he stole my property,” said Koser. “He took my dog and he murdered her. He didn’t follow protocol and he has to be stopped.”
Peavy said Koser contacted her and was distraught.
“I thought there was no way what she was telling me could be true, so I called Jerry (Clase),” said Peavy. “I can’t describe that call — It was very brief. He completely, unabashedly admitted that’s what he did.”
“I was in shock. I was just horrified — one, that it happened, and two, because of his attitude,” Peavy said. “It’s like it’s the wild west and I think he just goes out and makes these decisions with no regard for the human-animal bond and his position as a county representative.”
“With his complete disregard for the dog, he’s damaging the organizations that exist,” Peavy continued. “Like the animal shelter. They’re suffering from backlash because of this guy. He should be helping to educate people, using his position to assist in connecting pet owners in these types of situations with people or organizations that could provide help.”
“Normal people don’t go into people’s homes and take their dogs and shoot them,” said Peavy. “Especially when there are other resources.”
InkFreeNews reached out to Clase twice for comment but did not hear back on Thursday, June 27.
In 2010 the county received 16 complaints against Clase, according to other local news reports. After reviewing the complaints, commissioners found that none could be proven. At that time, commissioners told Clase that if there is ever a situation where abuse is substantiated, there could be termination involved.
Kosciusko Commissioner Vice-President Brad Jackson said the county is aware of the recent incident and are “taking the matter very seriously and delving into this to come up with the truth.”
Jackson said an executive session will be scheduled in order to discuss the situation in detail.
“We live in a society where people are innocent until proven guilty. We’ve got to find out what happened for sure,” said Jackson. “Once we find out exactly what happened, then we can figure out what measures need to be taken to address it. Once all the information is gathered and examined, it may not turn out to be as bad as we think it is — or it could be worse.”
So far, Jackson said Clase has been “very transparent with us.”
“I want to find out what the facts are and make a decision that will be good for the whole county,” Jackson said. “I’m not going to be rushed into a bad, uninformed decision without having all the information. I don’t do that in other areas of my life and I won’t do it in this situation.”
Koser, who lost her son in 2014 when a tree fell on their home in Winona Lake during a storm, said she wants justice for Daisy.
“She was everything to me when I lost my son. I had a lot of bad nightmares and she was always by my side. She would comfort me at night. She would lay her head on my lap and let me hold her,” Koser sobbed. “She saved me in so many ways and I couldn’t save her.”