Conroe, October 30 – Montgomery County District Attorney Special Crimes Bureau Chief Tyler Dunman spoke with The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, yesterday about the District Attorney’s Office’s decision not to prosecute Montgomery County Animal Shelter (MCAS) Director Aaron Johnson and Assistant Director Mark Wysocki. Dunman discussed the circumstances in part in response to this newspaper’s article yesterday, “F Is For Failure: Montgomery County Animal Shelter Director, Assistant Director’s Month-Long Suspensions Reveal Costly ‘Failure’ To Taxpayers,” The Golden Hammer, October 29, 2018.
After the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office’s Internal Affairs Division conducted an extensive investigation into events at MCAS, particularly the circumstances surrounding the killing of sixty-eight (68) animals on August 20, 2018, the District Attorney’s Office presented at least some aspects of the alleged conduct to a Montgomery County Grand Jury, which did not take any action to indict Johnson or Wysocki.
The situation began at the Animal Shelter on Monday, August 20, 2018, when Johnson and Wysocki ordered the euthanasia of over seventy-seven (77) animals whom Montgomery County Animal Control had brought in from the property of an elderly lady who hadn’t taken good care of the dogs and cats and who signed a request to euthanize them. Johnson and Wysocki ordered the euthanasia without veterinary evaluations of any of the animals. The Golden Hammer confirmed that the two veterinary technicians whom Johnson and Wysocki ordered to perform the killings directly disobeyed orders with respect to several of the animals, which were in good health, not feral, and not aggressive. Ultimately sixty-eight (68) animals lost their lives at the Animal Shelter rather than the full group of animals whom Johnson and Wysocki had sought to euthanize.
Jordan Gentry, D.V.M., the senior Veterinary Medicine Doctor at the Animal Shelter openly objected to the euthanasia, particularly without medical evaluations, and left the Shelter in protest during the day on Monday, according to several Shelter employees who confirmed the incident. On Tuesday, August 21, however, Dr. Gentry returned to work in order to perform the veterinary surgeries he regularly does as the Senior Veterinarian.
Gentry discovered that Johnson or Wysocki or someone else under their direction had placed Gentry’s named as the evaluating veterinarian on sixty-eight (68) pages of euthanasia records entered into the “Chameleon” software system at the Shelter. Gentry confronted Wysocki early Tuesday morning and told Wysocki words to the effect that the veterinary records were false and demanded that Wysocki remove Gentry’s name from them. Later in the afternoon, Wysocki removed Gentry’s name and left blank the evaluating veterinarian shown for making the veterinary medical determination that euthanasia was the appropriate procedure for the sixty-eight (68) animals.
On September 18, 2018, the Commissioners Court suspended Johnson and Wysocki with pay pending the investigation. The County government reinstated them on October 17.
The Sheriff’s Office investigation included whether Johnson and Wysocki had tampered with government records to misrepresent that Gentry had authorized the euthanasias and whether some sort of misuse of veterinary prescriptions drugs had occurred.
MCAS does not currently have a formal written euthanasia policy. As Dunman explained, as a result, the records on which some MCAS employee had listed Gentry as the authorizing veterinarian for the killings, was a not a “government record” which any Texas or federal statute required. Therefore, “it’s not a false entry per their policy and how they used this particular report,” Dunman explained.
Dunman also noted “It’s a defense if the false information could have no effect on the government’s purpose in acquiring or maintaining the record. Since it was only a secondary document to keep track of how drugs are used at the Shelter, there was no criminal statute violation involved in any of their conduct.”
During the investigation, Montgomery County law enforcement asked the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to come into the Shelter and conduct an audit. MCAS passed the DEA audit. The DEA investigators noted that the reports, which had listed Gentry’s name on them, had nothing to do with any official DEA audits or inspections.
As Dunman explained, under current policies at the Animal Shelter, “one doesn’t need a doctor’s permission to go through that process” of euthanizing an animal.
After Gentry asked for the removal of his name from the sixty-eight (68) records, Johnson and Wysocki instructed a veterinary tech to do so. “That wasn’t tampering. It wasn’t a false entry, because Gentry only wanted his name removed so he wouldn’t be associated with the euthanasias.
Assistant District Attorney General Dunman didn’t say everything was just fine at the Shelter either. Rather, he noted, “although we found no criminal conduct and we found no tampering, there are definitely improvements that they should make as far as recordkeeping and having better policies and procedures on file.”