Berne’s controversial dog-control officer resigns, leaving fired officer to handle dog-shooting incident

BERNE — Berne’s controversial dog-control officer, Jodi Jansen, resigned from his position on April 19, the day before a dog was shot twice and left for dead on the roadside in Berne, The Enterprise learned this week.

As a result of Jansen’s sudden resignation, Berne’s former dog-control officer, Cheryl Baitsholts, is aiding the sheriff’s office with its investigation into the case of the shot dog.

Supervisor Sean Lyons told The Enterprise that, on April 19, Jansen — who was first appointed to the position on Jan. 2020, illegally replacing Baitsholts, and reappointed again this year — had given a verbal resignation, apparently related to personal obligations that brought him out of town too often to do his job effectively.

“Jodi’s business has him traveling outside the area and unable to fulfill the duties,” Lyons told The Enterprise in an email. “He asked to extend thanks and gratitude to the Town Board and the residents for allowing him to serve.”

When asked by The Enterprise why he resigned, Jansen said, “I think that’s nobody’s business but mine, so don’t call me back.”

Baitsholts said that she learned from the sheriff’s office that Jansen had resigned, adding that not long before his resignation there was another dog incident, about which the sheriff’s office had tried to connect with Jansen without success.

Baitsholts said that that incident involved a dog that was dropped off at the town’s ambulance bay, where volunteers called the sheriff’s office, who then struggled to reach Jansen, eventually getting in touch with Baitsholts on the advice of another town’s dog-control officer.

“So they called,” Baitsholts said, “and said they had gone through everybody and wouldn’t I please take this dog, and I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ And they were like, ‘What do you mean absolutely not?’ And I said I don’t work for the town of Berne, and that if I did [come handle the dog] they would make an issue out of it. But once again I had to solve the problem.”

Baitsholts said she then called Berne councilwoman Bonnie Conklin. 

“I told her that sheriffs were looking for the dog control officer but couldn’t get him to respond, so maybe she could go and pick up the dog. And she said, ‘Oh I’m really sorry. I understand your frustration.’ And I said, ‘No, you don’t.’ And she said she’d take care of it and that was it. Then the sheriffs told me that he [Jansen] resigned so I assume there was an issue.”

Conklin declined to confirm for The Enterprise whether that exchange had taken place. The sheriff’s office could not be reached.

Jansen has long been accused in various forums of failing to answer residents’ calls about dogs, and Baitsholts said that she still helps residents even though she’s no longer paid by the town, posting about lost and found dogs on social media.

“As far as dog complaints, though, I haven’t had one since August,” Baitsholts said, “when a dog killed chickens over in Berne. I guess [Jansen] didn’t go. He didn’t respond or do anything about it. I was at a funeral that day when I got the call. I just told them to call the sheriff’s department and let them deal with it.”

When asked if Jansen’s resignation related to the ambulance-bay dog incident, Lyons told The Enterprise, “If it did, he did not mention that to me. I suspect that has something to do with it but that is only my speculation.”

In any event, with Jansen out as dog-control officer, the sheriff’s office has been working with Baitsholts on the incident that unfolded just one day after Jansen’s resignation. 

On April 20, deputies responded to a call about a dog laying on the side of Peasley Road, in Berne, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office. The dog, which was alive, was brought to a clinic, where it was discovered that the animal had a gunshot wound to the head, the release states.

On his Facebook page, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple wrote that the dog had been shot twice before it was “found moribund,” and has since been properly euthanized.

On April 28, the sheriff’s office arrested 72-year-old David Packard and his wife, Beth Mickle-Packard, according to a post Apple made on his Facebook page.

Apple wrote that investigators found two illegal firearms at David Packard’s residence. 

Packard was charged with Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, a class E felony; Criminal Possession of a Firearm, also a class E felony; and Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance/Cruelty to Animals, a class A misdemeanor.

Mickle-Packard was charged with Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance/Cruelty to Animals.

Describing the assistance that she’s been providing to the sheriff’s office, Baitsholts said prior to the arrest, “They asked me a couple of questions and, because I know people all in that area, I had questions which I think are going to result in an arrest soon, but I’m not at liberty to say any more.” 

Baitsholts did say that the dog, which had the appearance of a border collie, was reported to be about a year old and emaciated, which, combined with the fact that the corpse was dumped in public, suggests that the shooting was not a simple case of back-country euthanasia, carried out to avoid steep vet fees. Or, if it was, it was done incompetently. 

“I know a lot of people that are old-school that have no problem putting their dog down with a gun, if it’s old and decrepit,” Baitsholts said. “That’s a very old-school thing ... Most of us don’t believe in that. But you don’t just dump a body. In that case, you’d bury it in your backyard and nobody would be the wiser.”

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