Sugarcreek Auction Report: Follow Up by Anne Russek (OH)

December 4, 2008

On my last trip to Sugarcreek, I had initiated a complaint with the animal control officer, Dawn Smitely, concerning the owners who had brought three compromised animals to the auction.

I had been advised by Dr. Leah Dorman of the Ohio State Ag Dept that any equine abuse at an auction MUST be filed with local Animal Control. I also went to the Sugarcreek police department and filed a formal complaint with them. I made calls to the mayor, the county commisioner, and the district congressman.

Every day for two weeks after my filing, I called Dawn Smitely to ask how the case was proceeding. Dawn never returned my calls, even though her answering service assured me she was getting my messages.

At the beginning of the third week of making calls, Ms. Smitely’s service told me that they had been told, by Dawn, to inform me that I would be getting a report in four weeks. I waited five weeks, received no report, and called Dawn Smitely every day for four days.

When I received no response, I politely told the answering service that I had no choice but to contact the County Commissioner, Chris Abbuhl, and ask for his help in contacting Ms. Smitely. Today I heard from Dawn Smitely. This is an account of that conversation.

Dawn informed me that as far as she was concerned, the case had been closed the day I was at Sugarcreek.

Dawn told me that since two of the horse owners were from outside her county, she had no jurisdiction over them. I asked Dawn why she had not contacted me and told me this, she said she did not have to.

I asked about the third owner, who was from her county. Smitely told me that if I wanted to prosecute, I should move to Sugarcreek and take her job. Dawn also began to raise her voice and accuse me of slandering her on the internet. She said that USDA should do something about Sugarcreek, not her. I explained that Dr. Dorman, who was a state extension of USDA, assured me that it was within Dawn’s authority to take a complaint. Dawn replied that she had called the USDA in Washington and they told her she did not have to do anything.

Dawn told me that one of the horses had been shot at the auction. The pony had been adopted and given medical attention (my complaint was with the person who brought the pony to the auction, not the people who adopted it). The third horse was the one I told Smitely I thought had a broken knee (in my report, I clearly stated that I suspected the knee was broken, but that an x-ray was needed. I offered to pay for the x-ray, but Baker said he would rather shoot the horse.) I asked Dawn what had happened to that horse, did she know if it had been put down, she said she did not know, Leroy had taken care of it. I have no idea what she means by that comment.

It was told to me the day of the auction that Dawn Smitely was responsible for following up on the status of all three horses. I asked her why she had told her answering service to tell me that I would be receiving a report, Dawn told me that was her way of evading me. I asked her was it standard procedure to lie to people about forthcoming reports and she said I was a trouble maker. Dawn told me to go ahead and call Mr. Abbhul if I wanted to because he had no jurisdiction over her. I reminded her that the county payed her salary, and she said “yes they do, but they can’t tell me what to do”.

I will be calling the County Commissioner to tell him of this exchange.

The end.

2 thoughts on “Sugarcreek Auction Report: Follow Up by Anne Russek (OH)”

  1. It is my understanding that Anne goes to these auctions looking for particular horses, not just to pick out “pretty ones.”

    I have not heard that she gets any bucks except money given to her to buy particular horses if she can find them.

    She is braver than I am. I am not so sure I would be able to stand up to these killer buyers the way she does. They have been known to be some pretty rough customers. And I am not just saying that because I do not like what they do.

    When you say “speak to Humane Officer,” are you referring to Dawn Smitely, or someone else?

    What website are you referring to? There are several groups as well as individuals involved, right?


  2. This is not a true account of what happened – you may want to speak to Humane Officer – she does have a job and laws to follow, Ann seems to not understand that and does nothing but complicate things even more. She has cried wolf a few too many times, and wonders why she gets no help. Question – why does she only save the pretty ones?? They seem to not have as musch wrong with them as most – is it because they are easier for her to get the big bucks out of? Look at their website!


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