PORTSMOUTH—A former veterinary technician has been arrested on animal cruelty charges.
Officers responded on May 12 to a house on Sycamore Street in Sciotoville after a concerned neighbor reported a horrible smell and an unnatural number of flies at the exterior windows of the residence.
After arriving on the scene, officers feared the worst. According to the incident report from the Portsmouth Police Department, responding parties initially suspected a deceased person to be inside due to the nature of the complaint. Responding officers found the back door of the residence to be unlocked and ajar. Suspecting deceased or injured persons inside, they entered and made their presence known.
Upon a search of the home, officers found 19 dead dogs throughout the home in various stages of decomposition. Twenty-seven more were removed from the home, emaciated and dehydrated, but alive.
Also found within the home was 29-year-old Samantha Damron. According to the incident report, Damron emerged from her bedroom, where two of the deceased dogs were held in a cage next to her bed.
All dogs within the residence were reported to be German Shepherds or shepherd mixes.
The incident report revealed a grim picture of the home, with one officer calling the scene, “similar to the conditions shown on the television show, ‘Hoarders,’ but worse.” Animal feces and urine was smeared all over the floors of the residence and trash and rotting food littered the ground.
Deemed unsuitable for habitation, a code enforcement officer immediately condemned the home.
Officers found deceased and living dogs throughout the residence. Some roamed over piles of trash and rotting waste, while others were in cages.
The incident report went on to detail Damron’s response to officers, who reported that she “showed no emotion” at the scene. She claimed that she had attempted to rescue the dogs.
Damron told officers she “worked for an animal shelter and she was taking dogs in attempting to care for them but got overwhelmed and didn’t know how to get out of the situation,” according to the incident report.
The report also detailed Damron’s history of employment as a veterinary technician. She was previously employed at two local clinics prior to the incident. Because of her work experience and training, “Damron had no excuse for what took place to these animals in her care,” the incident report stated.
The surviving animals were evaluated by a veterinarian until they could be placed with rescues.
A search warrant allowed officers to search Damron’s technological devices, as they learned that she might have been using them to communicate about the animals. By analyzing Damron’s social media posts, officers found she belonged to at least one Facebook group which suggested an interest in taxidermied or skeletonized animals. Damron’s posts and Facebook followings further suggest that she, “has interest or a fetish in dead or skeleton related ‘arts’ of dead animals,” the incident report stated.
Damron is currently awaiting trial at the Scioto County Jail. Her bond is set at $25,000. She is facing over 33 counts of cruelty to animals and more charges are expected to be added as the investigation continues.
Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]