A week after acommittee provided recommendations for how Lucas County Dog Warden tom Skeldon should perform his duties, County leaders in Lucas County have made it very clear that the status quo was no longer acceptable.
Skeldon has vowed to "redouble" his efforts to adopt out more animals -- curbing the shelter's abysmal 80% euthanasia rate - but provided no specifics on how he would do it. Upon learning about Skeldon's response to the committee's recommendations, Lucas County Commission Presdident Pete Gerken said he would call a face to face meeting "to make sure he knows what he needs to do. If he needs some creative thinking, I'll be happy to give some."
Last November, under the same pressure, promised to get the shelter's adoption rate, which was then at 13%, up to 24% by the end of 2009, and up to 34% at the end of 2010. However, as of August 22, the shelter adoption rate was still at an abysmal 16.1%.
As of October 23, 62% of the dogs in the shelter had been euthanized this year -- to which, Skeldon responded "We are a success story. We are to be emulated." Meanwhile, Skeldon spent most of the article blaming everyone except himself for the problems in the shelter.
With a reaction like that, I sincerely doubt Skeldon has any desire or ability to make the changes possible to meet the demands of the public.
I've written about this before, but society's views on the roles of animal control are changing. No longer is animal control seen as just a department that is designed to protect people from dogs -- a notion that came out of the fear of rabies decades ago. But it is also now seen as an important for animal control to protect animals from people - -including our very own shelters.
Skeldon, and many others who are of the "old school" mindset fail to recognize this and continue to kill animals in an effort to improve "public safety" -- with no regard whatsoever for animal welfare.
It is no longer an acceptable form of animal control (if it ever, indeed was).
What may be worse is that in 2008, Toledo saw a 23% increase in dog bites -- so they're not really working on the public safety angle either. It is a failure all around.
I'll talk more about this next week, but the ideas surrounding no-kill and public safety are NOT mutually exclusive. It is possible -- and being done - that cities are both promoting public safety AND improving the welfare of animals. They can, and do, work hand in hand.
And the sooner we put good managment in charge of our animal control divisions -- that see that there are two sides of animal control -- protection of people from animals, and protection of animals from people - the sooner we will make true progress toward becoming a no-kill nation -- one that is truly animal-friendly.
The world is changing - -and our views on animals are changing. And the sooner those who are in charge recognize that, the better.