Nottoway County animal control officer charged with torturing animals to death

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NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) —  The man who runs the Nottoway County Animal Shelter is accused of abusing animals there.

According to court documents, Raymond Merkh, 55, faces two felony charges of torturing animals and causing their deaths. Merkh is Nottoway’s only animal control officer.

Merkh allegedly neglected to give emergency care to animals in the shelter. One of those animals was a kitten who was unable to urinate and unable to stand. The kitten suffered from obvious injuries and needed emergency veterinarian care, but none was provided.

Court records also tell the story of a Jack Russell Terrier unable to put weight on its legs and stand. The kitten had to be put down.

“Unfortunately, it’s very common in Virginia’s poorly managed shelters,” explained animal advocate Eileen McAfee.

McAfee has monitored abuse in the Commonwealth’s county animal shelters for more than two decades. She’s documented many heartbreaking abuse and neglect cases, but this is the first time she’s seen an animal control officer face charges.

“It’s especially egregious when you hear an animal control officer has failed to provide proper care to an animal in our tax payer supported shelters,” says McAfee, “They’re paid to do this, and it’s even more egregious because this is an officer who has been trained in proper animal care.”

8News reached out to Nottoway’s county administrator but we have yet to hear back.

8News learned that Merkh has been the animal control officer for about two years. He is now on unpaid leave pending the outcome of his case.

In the meantime, Amelia County is taking care of the animals at the shelter.This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates. Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.

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