Lucas County Commissioners Tina Skeldon-Wozniak and Pete Gerken missed the point.
Last month, long-time Lucas County Dog WardenTom Skeldon resigned amid a swirl of controversy surrounding what animal advocates in the city decided was a lot of unnecessary killing of animals in the shelter. The shelter's high kill rate, policies on pit bulls, and such little regard for animals that a 10 lbs dog was shot (and killed) with a tranquilizer dart and other transgressions led to Skeldon's pressured resignation.
Last week, a young puppy, believed to be a 'pit bull-type' dog, was set free from the shelter -- allowed to go into a foster home. The puppy's escape followed a change in policy that prohibited the shelter director from killing any puppies under 3 months of age. At the time, County Commissioner Ben Konap declared a small victory. "There is no such thing as a vicious puppy. If this didn't happen today, the dog would have been euthanized probably in a month or two, so this is a victory for the decent treatment of animals."
However, this week, Wozniak and Gerken closed the door - at least temporarily - on future humane opportunities for puppies. In a 2-1 vote (Konap was the one no vote),the County Commission voted to prohibit 'pit bull' pups from being removed from the shelter. While the shelter director can no longer kill them as puppies, they can, now, just hold them until they reach 3 months of age and then systematically kill the dogs.
Obviously, Gerken and Wozniak missed the point. The whole reason they are looking for a new county dog warden is because of increased public demand that animals be treated fairly and humanely -- and given a chance to live. This public pressure and outcry forced a 20 year-long staffer to step down. But Gerken and Wozniak continue to make policies that make running an effective shelter impossible -- by MANDATING that dogs be euthanized and even puppies to be warehoused and then euthanized vs being given a chance at life.
The decision by Gerken and Wozniak has been blasted by local rescue organizations such as Planned Pethood, Inc and Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates. Also, Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara took issue. "No 3 month old ppuppy is a threat to public safety," said McNamara. "The decision by the Lucas County Commissioners to exclude so-call 'pit bull' breeds from their extended moratorium is a disappointment and should be reconsidered."
As should Wozniak and Gerken's ability to run the county. I have no doubt that humane organizations throughout Lucas County will rally voters to the polls when their terms come due -- my only hope is that some strides can be made to end the needless and senseless killing of animals while they are still in office. The public has spoken about this need...it is time for all of the commissioners to begin listening.