VAN WERT, Ohio (WANE) – The former dog warden who pleaded not guilty to the animal cruelty charges against him is expected to change his plea later in December.
In July, the Van Wert Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation into Rich Strunkenburg after someone complained about the shelter’s conditions. Three dogs and six kittens were found dead and many of the kennels had not been cleaned.
The Van Wert County Council voted to remove Strunkenburg from his position as dog warden a week later. A Van Wert County Sheriff Deputy was assigned to supervise the shelter in his place. Strunkenburg was charged with four felony counts of animal cruelty and neglect, all of which he pleaded not guilty to in September.
According to a special prosecutor, there was a pretrial conference on December 2 during which they discussed of a change of plea. A change of plea hearing is now scheduled for December 16. The prosecutor could not reveal the terms of the plea deal as they have yet to be completely worked out.
Click here to see an update from the newly formed Humane Society board on how the shelter has been doing since Strunkenburg was ousted as the dog warden.