CHURUBUSCO — A man who admitted to neglecting 14 German shepherds near Churubusco last year paid his restitution for the Whitley County Humane Shelter.
The dogs’ previous owner, Ronald Drudge II, 45, was arrested March 6, 2018 by the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department. He later pleaded guilty to animal neglect and was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.
“It’s not common to get that much in restitution that quickly,” Prosecutor D.J. Sigler said. “It’s a really good thing for the Humane Shelter and for the community.”
The $3,000 figure came from medical supply expenses and additional staffing that was needed to take care of the 14 shepherds, which were brought to the shelter in “filthy” conditions after living in cat carriers and small cages in a horse trailer. The shepherds ranged in age from six months to 11 years, and the shelter took care of bathing, leash training, socializing and giving the dogs proper nutrition.
Drudge was given a 1-year sentence with part of the sentence suspended, and was ordered to pay restitution. During that suspended sentence, Drudge is not allowed to own more than a household pet. Previously, it appeared he was raising the pups to sell.
“He talked about selling them, but it never came to fruition,” Sigler said.
The 14 dogs doubled the typical number of canines typically housed at the shelter, and these dogs had special needs, including illnesses, extra bathing and the need for house training.
Abby Ogden, director of the shelter, said it took two hours every day to clean their kennels, which could be dirty again in 10 minutes after cleaning. Though she said the dogs were anxious and had many issues, most had good temperament.
“You could tell that he did care for them at one time — they were social,” Ogden said. “But our work almost doubled — it was a lot of dogs and a lot of money.”
Money that was repaid quickly.
“Did he do it out of the goodness of his heart? I don’t know. He paid both his debt of time and his monetary debt. That’s important and what we ask people who commit crimes to do,” Sigler said.
All of the dogs have all been adopted by new families, including one individual who traveled from as far as New York for adoption. In about 1.5 month’s time, all 14 dogs had new homes.
Though not everyone who wanted one of the shepherds were able to get one, there were many more who wanted to adopt — which brought exposure to other homeless animals at the shelter.
“They are still homeless and in need of a good home,” Ogden said.
Sigler stresses that had the shelter not been a resource in the community, the outcome for the dogs may have been much different.
“The shelter is such an asset for the community,” Sigler said. “If we didn’t have a place to bring them, they would have either had to be euthanized or moved out of the county. Having them here is a real benefit to the community.”
Though the stories of these animals were brought into the limelight due to court proceedings, there are many others who have their own stories and need affection of families of their own.
The Whitley County Humane Shelter is located at 951 S. Line St., Columbia City, 260-244-6664.