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Porter County animal shelter director arrested for drunken driving

JThomas  |  Supplied photo

Jon Thomas | Supplied photo

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Updated: September 6, 2014 6:29AM



The director of the Porter County Animal Shelter allegedly showed his teeth at and growled at hospital security officers when he was taken for blood-alcohol tests related to his arrest Friday for misdemeanor drunken driving.

Jon Thomas, 50, of Valparaiso, admitted he had a lot to drink because he was stressed about taking care of the animals at the shelter, according to the arrest report. Thomas also asked two Porter County Sheriff’s Department officers if they would like to adopt an iguana found wandering the streets of Valparaiso, the report said.

At 9:30 p.m. Friday, according to the report, Thomas drove up the driveway of a home in the 200 block of North Indiana 2, then went through its back yard. The maroon 2005 Toyota Highlander that Thomas was driving got stuck in the back yard of the house next door; the homeowner took Thomas’ keys and called police.

Thomas, who appeared intoxicated, did not know where he was and refused field and breath tests, police said.

Thomas was taken to Porter Regional Hospital and was left with security as the arresting officer completed paperwork for a warrant to have Thomas’ blood drawn. While the police officer was out of the exam room, Thomas showed his teeth and growled at security while allegedly trying to leave, police said. The security officer took Thomas to the ground, resulting in a laceration on Thomas’ ear that required four stitches.

Thomas had been championed by Porter County officials for turning around the animal shelter since he was appointed, first as interim director in November 2011 and soon after in a more-permanent role.

His appointment happened as the shelter reopened after being closed for several weeks because of animal deaths from parvovirus. The shelter also was struggling with funding, unpaid vet bills dating back to 2008, inadequate space, and debates on whether to privatize and make it a no-kill shelter.

A number of directors who preceded him lasted only a short while or left under controversy.

Just before Thomas’s appointment, Kristina Montgomery resigned after only three months on the job. Porter County Commissioner Nancy Adams said at the time that Montgomery was overwhelmed by the responsibilities.

The director before Montgomery, Judy Bonaventura, hired in 2008, was fired in early 2011 after a state audit showed money was missing from the shelter. The audit said $5,177 was missing due to improper accounting practices.

Before her were Jennifer Pierce, who resigned after three months; and Sandy Ogle, who resigned in February 2008 after a horse was euthanized when it became emaciated while in the care of a former animal welfare board member.



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