Longtime Kosciusko County Animal Control Officer Jerry Clase has retired.

County Administrator Marsha McSherry confirmed his last day was Friday after serving the county for approximately 30 years. She also said the county is taking applications for the position.

A phone call to Clase was not returned as of press time.

Kosciusko County Commissioner Brad Jackson texted, “I appreciate Jerry’s many years of service. Even though there has been some controversy at times, I always felt that Jerry’s heart was in the right place and that he wanted to do the right thing for Kosciusko County residents. I wish Jerry all the best in his retirement.”

In a telephone call, Commissioner Bob Conley said, “Jerry was a tremendous asset to the county. He’s the kind of guy you could call at 2 a.m. to help and he would come to help you.”

Over the years he’s been a commissioner, Conley said numerous people have told him how Clase has helped them solve a problem.

“That’s the kind of guy he was. Always there to help. He will be hard missed. He will be hard to replace,” Conley said.

He said the job has been posted on the county website at kcgov.com and they’ve already had a few people express interest in the position. The job posting says the position is full time and starting wage is $19.39.

Clase was involved in some controversy in his decades of service.

Clase was suspended for five days without pay July 23 by the Kosciusko County commissioners following a June 19 dog-shooting incident.

Etna Green resident Sherry Koser alleged that on June 19 Clase stole her dog, Daisy Mae, from her garage and shot it while she was at work. However, Koser’s landlord gave authorization for Clase to enter the property and take the dog, which was suffering from a ruptured mammary tumor. Indiana State Police investigated and found Clase had broke no laws.

Koser was arrested in September on a single count of cruelty to an animal, a class A misdemeanor.

In 2010, dozens attended the commissioners meeting to talk about Clase, though the commissioners at that time said they wouldn’t discuss personnel issues in a public forum. A woman gave the commissioners a packet with 16 signed eyewitness testimonies about Clase’s conduct, and others spoke out about him at that meeting.