Former dog warden pleads guilty in animal cruelty case

Rich Strunkenberg plead guilty in Van Wert on Wednesday, December 31, 2014.

VAN WERT, Ohio (WANE) The former Van Wert County, Ohio dog warden pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to two counts related to an animal cruelty investigation. Richard Strunkenberg was fired back in July after unacceptable conditions were found at the animal shelter he supervised. He was indicted by a grand jury on four felony counts in September.

Police were called to the shelter on Sunday, July 20 after getting a call from someone in the community concerned about the conditions there. After sheriff deputies determined that the conditions were unacceptable, Strunkenberg was placed on administrative leave with pay and later terminated. It was later revealed that three dogs and six kittens had been found dead at the shelter.

A veterinarian had also been called out to assess the health of several of the animals. Some of them had to be treated at the vet’s office. Most of the animals were returned to the shelter a few days later. The Van Wert County Sheriff’s Department is expected to take over management of the animal shelter in 2015.

After originally pleading not guilty, Strunkenberg changed his mind and pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of Prohibitions concerning Companion Animals. Since the counts are fifth degree felonies, the penalty ranges from 6 to 12 months.  Two other counts for the same offense were dismissed. His sentencing has been set for February 2, 2015.

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