Conditions inside this buildings were bad enough to get Van Wert County Dog Warden Rich Strunkenburg placed on paid administrative leave until an investigation is complete. Strunkenburg was placed on leave by Sheriff Tom RIggenbaugh after a complaint about conditions inside this building was made. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
Conditions inside this buildings were bad enough to get Van Wert County Dog Warden Rich Strunkenburg placed on paid administrative leave until an investigation is complete. Strunkenburg was placed on leave by Sheriff Tom RIggenbaugh after a complaint about conditions inside this building was made. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT -- Van Wert County Dog Warden Rich Strunkenburg has been placed on paid administrative leave by Van Wert Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach pending an investigation into substandard conditions at the animal shelter on Bonnewitz Ave.

"On Sunday my office got a call from a person concerned with conditions out at the shelter at the Humane Society," Riggenbach began. So I had a unit go out and see what we had, and I'm not going to get into specifics of what we found, but it was not what was acceptable to me, so I initiated an investigation that started Sunday."

Strunkenburg has been under the direct supervision of the Van Wert County Sheriff's Office since August 2013 when the County Commissioners placed the dog warden's office under the Sheriff's Office due to complaints about Strunkenburg's service response.

On that front, Riggernbach stated that Strunkenburg has been doing well.

"On the supervision side of it, Rich and I talk almost every day," Riggenbach explained. "He might also be in here more than once a day. He was on supervision for a number of things, but not as close as needed to be with the shelter area. That's something that's on me for not making sure he did a better job on that. I felt he was doing pretty well with I was seeing, handing and responding to calls for service."

As far as straightening up matters at the shelter, according to Riggenbach, "I've pulled one of my deputies off the road and assigned him out at the shelter temporarily to take care of things we need to get squared away out there and still do the best we can to still provide service to the county."

Apparently there were a couple of animals that were taken to a local veterinarian to be assessed. Riggenbach reported that one only animal remained at the veterinarian's office as of Wednesday, and that one animal would probably either be back at the shelter on Thursday if it was not adopted out first.

Riggenbach stressed that the investigation was begun based on the conditions inside the building, not the outside kennels. He noted that a mother with a litter of pups and a couple of other dogs that had been put in kennels outside over that weekend, but the outside is not part of the investigation. The inside of the building is the concern.

"It was n0t acceptable to me inside the kennel and that was why I started the investigation," he said. "Rich knows what the level of expectation is for out there, and I didn't feel those expectations were met when I was at the kennel on Sunday."

The length of the investigation is unknown at this time. Riggenbach would not speculate on consequences or punishments related to the investigation until it has been completed.