WARSAW — The organizer of a protest that attracted more than 60 people this morning calling for the firing of Jerry Clase said the battle won’t end if he does not lose his job.
Clase, a longtime animal control officer for Kosciusko County, is under scrutiny over the handling of a sick dog that Clase killed in June without the owner’s knowledge.
The dog owner’s landlord had called Clase who took the dog named Daisy. He shot the dog and then dumped the body.
The 8 a.m. protest in front of the county courthouse began an hour before the county commissioners were expected to discuss the matter.
The commissioners met in an executive session earlier this month about the shooting of the Etna Green dog. They also recently revised the county ordinance adding emphasis in how an animal control officer should contact animal owners when investigating a neglected or abandoned domestic animal.
Phaedra Chaney organized Tuesday’s protest and has led an online petition that has gained 1,387 supporters calling for the firing of Clase.
Chaney said she believes they have strong public support and that she and others have legal backing to take the case to the Indiana Attorney General if the county does not fire Clase.
“Local, state and federal laws were broken all over the place big time, but they don’t know we know this. They’ve been protecting him. This has been going on for years. It’s a pattern,” Chaney said.
“What they did to Daisy was wrong. People are afraid for their own animals at this point,” Chaney said.
The protest was peaceful and included many carrying signs. One read, “Paws Up, Don’t Shoot.”
Another said, “Animal Abusers Are Losers.”
Tracey Miner, who said she was formerly involved with the Animal Welfare League, claimed she saw Clase abuse and shoot dogs.
“Enough is enough. We’re here because we’re outraged and the animals in this county deserve better. We’re taxpayers and we’re voters and this is unacceptable to us anymore,” Miner said.
The speakers used megaphones to address the crowd and most of the protesters remained outside as the commissioners meeting began at 9 a.m.
A handful of protesters came from the Allen County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Terra Schmidt, a volunteer with the group, called the incident “so absurd and illegal that goes above and beyond anything that any acceptable practice would accommodate.”
She suggested more updates to the animal control ordinance might be needed, compared to other counties, including Allen County.
“We have really great animal ordinances so something like this could never happen because it’s 2019.”