Yesterday, the Toledo Blade ran multiple articles on the failings of the Lucas County Animal Shelter under Skeldon's watch.
Most of the controversy centers around Lucas County's high kill rate -- according to their own figures, they kill around 77% of the dogs that come into their shelter -- totalling nearly 2500 dogs killed last year and 1848 killed so far this year.
Skeldon has continued to blame 'pit bulls' for the problem with the high kill numbers -- however, records pulled by the Toledo Blade show differently -- in total, 70 different breeds of dogs including 145 Labrador Retrievers and 131 German Shepherds -- and large numbers of Chows, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Shar Peis, Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers and Jack Russell Terriers. Also 78 puppies under three months of age were among the 1848 dogs killed so far this year.
In total, the adoption rate under Skeldon is an abysmal 13%. In other words, if the dog makes it into the shelter, most likely it is going out the back door, not the front, regardless of what breed it is.
While the County Commissioners are calling for a change, Skeldon seems little prepared to make the sweeping changes necessary. In the article, he calls a large number of the people who don't want animals killed in the shelter a part of the "criminal element" -- including singling out a couple of animal welfare groups that he thinks fit that criteria. He also tries to point out that his job is not to save the lives of animals, but to protect people from dogs -- an archaic view of animal control, and something that he hasn't been successful at either. He also dismissed John Dinon's, the executive director of the Toledo Humane Society, criticism that he was not declaring enough dogs adoptable and allowing them to be pulled by the Humane Society.
Skeldon also scoffed at recommendations to transfer dogs to all-breed rescue groups. "The trouble with multibreed rescue groups is that in the past they wanted to come through and shop and cherry-pick. In other words, they all wanted the sweet little dog. They don't want the bigger, older dog....they assume that they would adopt out more dogs than we do." Um, Tom, you adopt out only 13% of the dogs that come into your shelter. It would be hard to do WORSE than that.
In a second article, the Blade compares Lucas County's euthanasia rates to those of surrounding city shelters -- and it's not pretty.
Wood County's euthanasia rate is 40%.
Monroe County's euthanasia rate is 36%. One way they've improved their numbers is by adopting out 'pit bulls". "We do not judge dogs by their breed. We judge dogs by their behavio," said Monroe County Animal Control Driector Linda Benson. "A bad dog is a bad dog, and it doesn't matter what the breed is. A good dog is a good dog, even if it's a pit bull."
Fulton County's euthanasia rate is about 28%.
Lucas County's is around 77%.
Yes, changes need to be made. And the people who want changes are not criminals Mr. Skeldon, they are people who don't think that every animal that finds its way into the shelter should be killed. And most also agree with Linda Benson - -good dogs are good dogs, regardless of what they happen to look like.
The pressure is mounting on Tom Skeldon. The statistics are not on his side. The letters to the paper keep piling up against him, and the political pressure for the county commissioners to change things is mounting. And the current man in charge is showing no signs of having any desire to make the changes neccessary and demanded by the public.
It's is time for Lucas County to move on and fire Tom Skeldon-- and get an animal control director who is not living in the 1980s and is current with how modern society views animals.