UPDATE: Former employer says vet tech charged in animal cruelty case was fired
SCIOTO COUNTY, OH (WOWK) – We’re learning more details about a vet tech who is facing charges in Portsmouth after 46 dogs, 19 of them dead, were found at her residence.
In the initial police report, authorities stated that Samantha Damron, 29, of Portsmouth, had previously been employed at the Wheelersburg Animal Hospital as a vet tech and that she left for “personal reasons.” However, the Wheelersburg Animal Hospital tells WOWK 13 News that was not the case, and Damron did not leave of her own accord. The hospital has released the following statement:
“Samantha Damron was terminated from Wheelersburg Animal Hospital in November 2021 for undisclosed reasons.”
-Wheelersburg Animal Hospital
The police report also states at the time of her arrest, Damron was employed by the Shawnee Animal Clinic. WOWK 13 News Reporter Lane Ball spoke with her now-former employer and the clinic owner Tim Wells regarding the incident.
“She started in December, and we never suspected anything. She was always on time. The only issue we noticed was personal hygiene,” said Wells.
According to an incident report, Portsmouth PD was dispatched to a home on the 600 block of Sycamore Street for a welfare check on May 12. A neighbor had called to report a foul smell and flies, and they feared that a deceased person was inside the residence.
Upon arrival, police found what they described as “‘Hoarders,’ but worse.”
They say they found 19 dead dogs inside the residence and a total of 27 live dogs running loose or locked in separate cages throughout the house. Police said that all of the live dogs appeared severely dehydrated and malnourished. They said that no fresh food or water could be found inside the cages.
Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman confirms the dogs were German Shepherds or shepherd mixes. Animal Control took custody of the surviving dogs for a veterinarian to evaluate.
Since Damron’s arrest, authorities have confirmed that two more of the dogs have died, bringing the total to 21 deceased animals.
Police found that Damron expressed her interest in a Facebook page dedicated to the viewing, making and selling of real animal parts. The incident report says that Damron specifically shared a post of a real kitten skeleton saying “This is amazing honestly. If you aren’t following her [in reference to the page] yet, you are lame.”
Because of Damron’s social media posts, her electronic devices were sent to BCI for cyber investigation.
Damron’s bond was set to $25,000. According to the Portsmouth Municipal Court, when Damron appeared in court Thursday, May 19, she was permitted to sign her own personal recognizance bond. Her case has been waived to a grand jury, and they will determine her indictment and if any further charges will follow.
The court says Damron must surrender her current animals and will not be allowed to own any animals.
Officials with the Scioto County Dog Shelter say this recent animal cruelty investigation brought out so many emotions. “I was absolutely horrified… I am not a crier and I was crying. I’ve never seen so many dead dogs. You thought you were done pulling out dead dogs and then you’d find more dead dogs.” said Brandy Ratcliff, Scioto County Dog Warden.
Officials say some German shepherds were barely able to move their back legs after being left in a cage. Now, those that survived are still recovering but are able to move around in the shelter.
The shelter staff is looking to send the remaining dogs to different rescue organizations once the case is over.