Van H. Hess, 2110 Adkins Hoffer Hill Road, Otway, appeared before Judge Richard Schisler on Tuesday to answer to 27 counts filed by John Owens, chief of operations for the Scioto County Humane Agency.
Hess is charged with 10 counts of committing an act of neglect for confining animals for two months or more without food or sustenance, resulting in their starvation. He is charged with 10 more counts of committing an act of cruelty by torture and torment of companion animals, by confining the animals without food and causing suffering for two months or more. Hess also faces seven counts of committing an act of cruelty for the needless killing of companion animals. “Companion animals” are defined by state law as domesticated dogs and cats, normally pets.
Owens said witnesses told him Hess had 16 adult dogs and eight puppies. However when Owens arrived on Aug. 9, he counted 10 adult dogs and two puppies. Owens, said that he had 20 pounds of dog food with him and fed it to the dogs.
He said he returned on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, and on Aug. 15, Owens said he found only three adult dogs and two puppies.
“And I smelled dead animals,” he added. He said he discovered that seven dogs had been shot.
Owens said that Ruby Maddy, a friend of Hess, told Owens that she stopped Hess from shooting the rest of the dogs.
Owens said what upset him most was that he was attempting to help Hess when the dogs were found shot to death.
“Our policy is first to assist, second to educate and finally to prosecute where necessary. I had brought 50 pounds of dog food with me that day to help feed the animals,” said Owens. “I have been asking myself, what could I have done to prevent this? What more could I have done?”
Owens said that Hess' bond was set at $27,000 - $1,000 for each charge - and he was released on his own recognizance.
Hess will appear for a hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 30 before Schisler, in court room B of the Portsmouth Municipal Court.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.