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Under fire from critics who claim Lucas County doesn't care enough about captured dogs, officials yesterday announced a goal of increasing the rate of adoptions from the county's dog pound by 10 percent next year.
County Commissioner Ben Konop and county Dog Warden Tom Skeldon said to increase the adoption rate, they'll form the Animal Welfare Advisory Group - comprised of local animal rescue organizations - to better coordinate efforts with those organizations.
They also said they would work more closely with the Toledo Area Humane Society to see that animals are adopted, promote more spay and neuter programs, and also use a revamped county Web site to advertise adoptable dogs.
"We're going to work together to have a regular line of communication, which has been missing," Mr. Konop said.
Mr. Skeldon was the target of criticism as well as praise during a public hearing last month which lasted more than two hours.
While many of his supporters in law enforcement said he has provided a valuable service to the community by protecting police and seizing vicious dogs, critics - including local residents and some local rescue organizations - claimed he hasn't done to make dogs taken in by his office available for adoption.
Mr. Skeldon said he looked forward to working with local animal shelters, but he also defended his office.
"I appreciate the interest, but I also think there ought to be some credit given for a job well done to have lowered the number of necessary euthanizations," Mr. Skeldon said.
He said in 1979, the dog warden received more than 13,000 dogs, and euthanized more than 10,000 of them.
In 2007, the dog warden impounded 3,946 dogs - including 1,354 pit bulls - and euthanized 2,564 of them and ar-ranged for the adoption of 401 of them.
The dog warden will not allow seized pit bulls to be adopted as well as dogs which have attacked someone or dogs that are sick or injured.
The humane society and the dog warden have been working together for decades and have a contract dating back to 2004.
But at yesterday's news conference, county officials said they hoped to see a renewed effort to increase dog adoptions.
John Dinon, the humane society's executive director, said his agency has additional space and specialists who can deal with troubled canines better than the dog warden.
"We're going to make a stronger effort to adopt more animals," said Dan Grove, who helped circulate petitions calling for Mr. Skeldon's ouster.
He was at yesterday's news conference and praised the development.
"This is absolutely a positive step," Mr. Grove said. "It's not the end."
The Animal Welfare Advisory Board will include representatives from the Toledo Animal Shelter, Planned Pethood Inc., Paws and Whiskers Cat Shelter Inc., the humane society, Humane Ohio, and Maumee Valley Save-A-Pet.
Lucas County Pet Owners, the group that led the petition drive, also will have a seat on the board, Mr. Konop said.
Mr. Konop said the board would report directly to the commissioners on issues relating to the dog warden, and that there would be no cost to the county.
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