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Published: Monday, 5/3/2010

Lyle makes a good start

IF there were any doubts that Julie Lyle would be a different sort of Lucas County dog warden, they were dispelled by a recent video of her sitting on the floor playing with one of the dogs available for adoption at the pound.

In the video, which you can see at toledoblade.com, Ms. Lyle is riding herd on Banjo, an active young cattle dog mix in need of a good home. The video is part of a collaborative effort with The Blade to find homes for adoptable dogs.

Can anyone imagine former dog warden Tom Skeldon, in his epaulets and captain's bars, mucking about on the floor like that? Certainly not, and that's because the previous regime thought that protecting the public and saving dogs were incompatible ideas.

They're not, of course, but the county must actively choose the more difficult path of finding homes for stray dogs, rather than taking the easy route that leads to the deaths of thousands of animals each year.

Dogs brought to the pound now are given names, a simple difference that enhances their chances of being adopted. Ms. Lyle has tried to stop the killing, but ran afoul of the shortsightedness of Commissioners Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak and County Administrator Peter Ujvagi.

And she's working on developing relationships with a broader array of canine rescue groups and making long-term changes in her office's euthanasia policy.

There are more changes we'd like to see, such as a permanent reduction in fees and fines to encourage more people to license their dogs and to reclaim unlicensed pets from the pound when they stray. But Ms. Lyle has made a good beginning.

None of the changes made or contemplated should be interpreted as meaning that Ms. Lyle or her deputies will be less diligent protecting the public. Strays will be rounded up, owners of unlicensed animals will be fined when they are caught, dog fighting will not be tolerated, and vicious animals will be destroyed. But no longer will the innocent suffer the same fate as the guilty.

There's a new dog sheriff in town. If Banjo - who already has a new home - is any indication, that's doggone good.

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