Editor’s Note: In the initial police report, authorities stated that Samantha Damron, 29, of Portsmouth, had previously been employed at the Wheelersburg Animal Hospital as a vet tech and that she left for “personal reasons.” However, the Wheelersburg Animal Hospital tells WOWK 13 News that was not the case, and Damron did not leave of her own accord. The hospital has released the following statement:

“Samantha Damron was terminated from Wheelersburg Animal Hospital in November 2021 for undisclosed reasons,” Wheelersburg Animal Hospital.


SCIOTO COUNTY, OH (WOWK) – A woman charged with animal torture was in municipal court this morning.

29-year-old Samantha Damron, a vet tech, was arrested Thursday, May 12, after 46 dogs, 20 of them dead, were found at her Portsmouth residence with a bond set at $25,000.

According to the Portsmouth Municipal Court, Damron was permitted to sign her own personal recognizance bond. Her case has been waived to a grand jury, and they will determine her indictment and if any further charges will follow.

The court says Damron must surrender her current animals and will not be allowed to own any animals.

The Scioto County Dog Warden says her grand jury hearing will be Friday at 10:30 a.m.

13 News reporter Lane Ball spoke with Damron’s former employer at Shawnee Animal Clinic. “She started in December, and we never suspected anything. She was always on time. The only issue we noticed was personal hygiene,” said the owner of the practice, Tim Wells.

Officials with the Scioto County Dog Shelter say this recent animal cruelty investigation brought out so many emotions. “I was absolutely horrified… I am not a crier and I was crying. I’ve never seen so many dead dogs. You thought you were done pulling out dead dogs and then you’d find more dead dogs.” said Brandy Ratcliff, Scioto County Dog Warden.

Officials say some german shepherds were barely able to move their back legs after being left in a cage. Now, they are still recovering but are able to move around in the shelter.

Unfortunately, 2 puppies died in the shelter on Friday.

The shelter staff is looking to send the remaining dogs to different rescue organizations once the case is over.

According to an incident report, Portsmouth PD was dispatched to a home on the 600 block of Sycamore Street for a welfare check on May 12. A neighbor had called to report a foul smell and flies, and they feared that a deceased person was inside the residence.

Upon arrival, police found what they described as “‘Hoarders,’ but worse.”

They say they found 19 dead dogs inside the residence and a total of 27 live dogs running loose or locked in separate cages throughout the house. Police said that all of the live dogs appeared severely dehydrated and malnourished. They said that no fresh food or water could be found inside the cages.

Neighbors we spoke with say one of the things that stood out to them was the smell coming from the home when investigators pulled the dogs from it.

You can’t describe the smell… Unless you smell it, you really can’t describe the smell.

ANONYMOUS NEIGHBOR

Other neighbors, like local pastor Chad Garinger say, had they known what was going on, they would have done whatever they could to prevent this from happening.

The incident report says that Damron was previously employed at the Wheelersburg Animal Clinic as a vet tech and that she left for “personal reasons.” She was expected to report to her new job at Shawnee Animal Clinic later that evening.

Police found that Damron expressed her interest in a Facebook page dedicated to the viewing, making, and selling of real animal parts. The incident report says that Damron specifically shared a post of a real kitten skeleton saying “This is amazing honestly. If you aren’t following her [in reference to the page] yet, you are lame.”

Because of Damron’s social media posts, her electronic devices were sent to BCI for cyber investigation.

Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman confirms the dogs were German Shepherds or shepherd mixes.

Animal Control took custody of the surviving dogs, and a veterinarian will evaluate them.

Tieman said his office will review the charges and evidence and determine whether the case should go before the grand jury. If the grand jury finds probable cause to indict Damron, the prosecutor’s office will take over the case.