Battle Between Clarion County Humane Officer and DA’s Office Continues

| January 4, 2018

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – The battle between Clarion County’s humane officer and the District Attorney’s office is far from over.

After the cancellation of a November 16 hearing to determine the fate of current humane officer Penny Dewoehrel, the battle has gone behind the scenes with parties on both sides filing court motions and petitions.

The battle apparently began after District Attorney Mark Aaron agreed to a plea deal with Richland Township residents Lorraine Girty and Richard Girty, who were facing three summary counts of animal neglect after an investigation by Dewoehrel.

Dewoehrel alleged the Girtys failed to provide adequate shelter, food, and water to multiple dogs and cats at the residence.

The plea agreement called for the Girtys to plead guilty to one summary count of animal neglect, pay a fine of $100.00, and pay veterinary costs associated with the animals.

During the October 20 hearing, District Judge Amy Long-Turk accepted the plea and ordered Dewoehrel to relinquish the animals to Sheriff Rex Munsee on October 23. Sheriff Munsee was assigned to return the animals to the Girtys’ new residence in Oil City. Their Richland Township home burned down near the end of September, and they relocated to the Venango County residence.

Dewoehrel agreed to hand over the animals to Sheriff Munsee on the specified date.

Judge Long-Turk also ordered District Attorney Aaron to contact the Oil City Police Department and ask them to conduct random monthly inspections to ensure the animals are receiving the proper care.

“We followed the law, and the animals are to be returned to their owners,” said DA Aaron. “And, Judge Turk agreed that the animals were to be returned.”

In October, DA Aaron and Sheriff Munsee inspected the Girtys’ new residence in Oil City and found appropriate shelter, water, and food were available.

“Sheriff Munsee and I inspected the NEW home in Oil City, and it had adequate food and shelter,” said Aaron. “We are following the law.”

DA Aaron added that there was food “piled to the ceiling” for the dogs.

— But, the animals have not been returned, and no one seems to know where they are.

Dewoehrel has been vocal on Facebook about her feelings about the decision and other animal care groups in the area, but she has refused to speak to exploreClarion.com. She referred all questions to her attorney, Dennis Moskal; however, repeated efforts to contact him have been unsuccessful.

In one Facebook post, Dewoehrel questioned exploreClarion.com why it hasn’t posted the “truth” about the district attorney.

Here is an excerpt from one recent post, unedited:

“I stand for what I believe in and if that means loosing my humane officer standing in clarion county then so be it these animals only have my voice and you did a story for the DA so now do the true story for the animals whom suffered and got no justice…”

“I have served clarion county for free for 10 years do I not deserve to have the truth shared???? contact me before its to late for these animals time is running out and I certainly pray you have enough gumpshion to fight for whats right!”

In terms of the order to return the animals to the Girtys, President Judge James Arner issued an order on December 22 that granted a Motion for Reconsideration made by the Girtys. The court order said the Commonwealth and/or Penny Dewoehrel immediately return seven dogs and two cats to the care and control of Richard Girty and Lorraine Girty.

Last week DA Aaron told exploreClarion.com that he had emailed Dewoehrel’s attorney but had not yet received a reply.

“Right now, I don’t know where those animals are,” Aaron said.

Aaron also said his original motion to have Dewoehrel removed as Clarion County’s humane officer is still pending.

“We are following the law here, and we must. It is our duty as officers of the court,” Aaron explained.

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Hearing to Decide Fate of Clarion County Humane Officer


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