The county officials in Lucas County, OH voted this week to table a proposal that would have allowed the Lucas County Shelter to adopt out 'pit bulls' instead of having to kill them in the shelter. Commissioners Peter Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak voted against a proposed bill that would have given their new dog warden, Julie Lyle, the authority to determine which dogs were allowed to be adopted and which ones were killed based on the temperament of the dogs.
It kind of makes my head hurt. The idea that a bureaucrat in an office gets to make the decision on which dogs get killed, vs the person in the shelter that actually handles the dogs makes no sense to me whatsoever. At this point, killing pit bulls has become so ingrained to them, that they can hardly see any other way.
All is not lost for the dogs however. The county commissioners are looking a possible proposal that would allow the Lucas County shelter to transfer 'pit bulls' to other area rescue groups for adoptions. The Toledo Humane Society Executive Director John Dinon has said the agency wants change its policy to allow for pit bull adoptions so that pit bulls can be transferred from the county shelter to the Humane Society and get a second chance. (Update: The Humane Society approved the change to allow 'pit bull' adoptions today).
Readers who click through to the links may be a little startled at the beginning of the WTOL article I linked to about the Humane Society. In a story that should be a good article about the Humane Society rethinking its policy of killing all pit bulls, the lead is far from warm and fuzzy.
"Pit bulls can be aggressive and their attacks can be horrifying. In fact, one pit bull is in danger of being euthanized after it mauled a girl over the weekend."
Not surprisingly, the WTOL General manager did an editorial yesterday talking about the need to control "vicious dogs". While I actually agree with the general premise of the editorial, the timing of the editorial (being on the same day as the county vote) and the dogs showed in the footage seem pretty clear that Mr. Chirdon is using "vicious dog" and "pit bull" synonymously.
The media wasn't a friend to the 'pit bulls' this week -- with three reports of dog bites in the Toledo area during the same week as they were discussing the possible repeal of the rule prohibiting pit bulls from being adopted from the shelter.
Peter Gerken used the recent stories to help him "justify" the need to keep the policy.
The timing of the media coverage of the bites seems more than just a coincidence. According to the county dog bite numbers from 2007 & 2008, the county has roughly 400 dog bites per year -- so roughly 1 per day. Of those, only about 60 are from 'pit bulls'. So the vast media coverage of the 3 'pit bull' bites during this first week of the new dog warden seems a little, suspicious. Incidentally, over the past 3 years, WTOL has run 19 stories about dog bites/attacks in the community -- 16 of them have been involving 'pit bulls'. Sure seems like the spike in media coverage mirrored their stated agenda on the issue.
Meanwhile, in a separate article that for the life of me I cannot find right now (updated: here's the link) Lucas County Administrator Peter Ujvagi (I originally mistakenly attributed the comment to Ben Konap) noted that Lucas County isn't terribly behind the curve on how the rest of Ohio treats 'pit bulls' in the shelter. According to Konap, 66 of the state's 88 county animal shelters do not adopt out 'pit bulls'. At a time when it's become en vogue to criticize 'pit bull' owners for the number of pit bulls dying in our shelters, clearly, with so many shelters having policies that mandate the killing of all of them that come into the shelter is it any wonder their kill rates are so high?
We must replace this archaic way of thinking and give all dogs with good temperaments a chance in a new home. We should make decisions based on the temperament of the individual dog, not on what it looks like. There is no reason a healthy, happy, loving dog should be instantly killed just because of how it looks. It's ridiculous, and it's the reason the residents of Lucas County ran their old-school, catch-and-kill dog catch out of office.
On a lighter note, can the Lucas county administrator lighten up a little? Because this is just all in good fun.