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County dogs in limbo

Just over a week after a plan seemed to be in place for the future of the Monroe County Dog Warden position, that plan fell apart.

Monroe County Sheriff Charles Black announced in a press release Thursday, Jan. 17 that he was rescinding his agreement to accept the county dog warden duties, which his office was going to assume Feb. 1.

Black’s statement, which he posted to Facebook Thursday, Jan. 17 along with the transcribed minutes from the Jan. 7 and 8 Monroe County Commissioners’ meeting, explained his reasons for rescinding on the agreement, which had been approved by the commissioners Jan. 8.

In his statement, Black said he “was under the impression that there were different mitigating circumstances for the switch of the Dog Warden under the control of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.”
“They were saying, they say in the minutes and in the (Monroe County) Beacon, that there were no performance issues. There was no situation other than changing to the Sheriff’s Office,” Black said. “They said she (Monroe County Humane Officer Ronda Piatt) was adequately doing her job…If a person is adequately doing (his or her) job, (he or she) should not lose (his or her) job. This is America.”

As Black alluded, when the commissioners explained their reasons for transferring the dog warden duties to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office during the Jan. 8 and 14 meetings, Commissioners Tim Price and Carl Davis repeatedly insisted the decision was not based on Piatt’s performance.

Davis and Price said there had been complaints that Piatt had at times been difficult to reach when needed and mentioned issues involving weekly reports.

Davis went so far as to say that had Piatt’s performance been better, there would not have been a need to make the transition.

“…if she (Piatt) was doing her job in the best way possible,” Davis said during the Jan. 8 meeting, “we wouldn’t be here.”

However, Price and Davis insisted that they felt the dog warden responsibilities would be better handled through the Sheriff’s Office. They also cited the time frame they needed to act on the matter through Ohio Revised Code.

Any transition needed to be approved during the first meeting of a newly elected commissioners’ term, which was Jan. 7-8.

During the Jan. 8 meeting, the commissioners discussed what role Piatt would play after the transition. It was suggested that Black would have offered Piatt the opportunity to continue in her position, working under him in his office.

Piatt indicated multiples times during the Jan. 8 meeting that she would not accept a position under Black.

Black, however, said he would have hired Piatt, despite his reservations, which would have made his position as her supervisor difficult after the commissioners said their decision was not performance-based.

Black said his office routinely struggled to reach Piatt by phone when she was needed, forcing his office to handle the calls.

“Ronda did not do her job. It’s flat-out simple,” Black said. “She’s off at 4 p.m., so it’s our responsibility to be dog warden. (Recently) there were two pit bulls rampaging in Woodsfield. She tells us at 4 p.m. she’s done.

“It would be difficult to discipline her or to handle any incidents or problems in the future,” Black added.

With Black taking his department out of the picture, the future of the dog warden position is unclear.

Commissioner Mick Schumacher, who voted against the motion to transfer the responsibilities to the Sheriff’s Office, said the situation  was owned by Price and Davis during the Jan. 8 meeting. Price and Davis were unavailable for comment.

For his part, Black said his office would continue to answer calls, to an extent.

“(My office) will pass on (calls) to the dog warden and give (residents) the commissioners’ numbers if there is no contact,” Black said. “If it is a vicious dog that is putting individuals at risk, we will respond. Other than that, it’s their (the commissioners’) problem.”

Monroe County Beacon

103 East Court Street,
Woodsfield, OH 43793