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Published: Friday, 1/10/2003

Authorities seek tips on crimes, vicious canines

A pit bull terrier confiscated in a raid this week on Fernwood Avenue awaits its fate at the county dog warden's complex. A pit bull terrier confiscated in a raid this week on Fernwood Avenue awaits its fate at the county dog warden's complex.
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Lucas County residents are being asked to help authorities deal with vicious dogs and violent crime by being vigilant.

Yesterday's request was made after the number of homicides in Toledo related to the illegal sale of drugs rose last year compared to prior years and after the county dog warden seized a record number of pit bull terriers last year.

Residents are asked to report the whereabouts of more than one vicious dog or where illegal activity might be occurring.

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre said about 30 percent of the homicides last year were related to drugs.

The number is 5 to 10 percent higher than in prior years, Chief Navarre said.

“As you can see, there is some connection between these three subjects - homicides, illegal drug trafficking, and vicious dogs,” he said.

Authorities said pit bulls are often the weapon of choice for people who engage in illegal drugs.

“These dogs are used as a tool for drug dealers to protect and intimidate,” dog warden Tom Skeldon said.

Although it is against the law to own and register more than one vicious dog, many people do. Authorities said some are used in drug trafficking, others are used for dog fighting - a felony in Ohio.

Last year, the dog warden seized 551 pit bulls. Of 592 dog bites his office recorded, 37 were from pit bulls.

Fifty-nine percent of the victims were children under age 17.

The warden's office seized 142 pit bulls last year while working with the police after dark. About 40 percent of the dogs were scarred from dog fighting, Mr. Skeldon said.

He estimates about 2,000 pit bulls are kept in the county.

During a review of 1,671 search warrants Toledo police executed during a three-year period, officers encountered 481 dogs in 265 incidents. Most of the dogs were vicious by nature or training.

The officers contained 465 of the dogs and shot 16, Chief Navarre said.

About 76 percent of the county dog warden's work occurs in Toledo. The city's three-year contract with the county expired Dec. 31, but Mr. Skeldon and Megan Vahey, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jack Ford, said the dog warden has agreed to serve the city while a new contract is being negotiated.

While his office is servicing Toledo police by picking up dogs, Mr. Skeldon said the dog warden can't issue citations for violations of the city's municipal code until a new contract is signed.

Such violations include having more than one vicious dog and having a vicious dog that is not muzzled when it is away from its owner's property. Toledo police can cite for such violations, he said.

To report such activities, dial 911; Toledo police's nonemergency number at 419-245-3340; Crime Stopper at 419-255-1111, or the dog warden's office at 419-255-6119.



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