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Published: Thursday, 12/18/2008

Dog-bite victims select Skeldon as year's best warden

Skeldon Skeldon
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Tom Skeldon's critics have been growling for months that he lose his job. Now, an advocacy group for dog-bite victims says the Lucas County dog warden is the best this year in America.

The group, DogsBite.org, has named Mr. Skeldon its "Dog Warden of the Year."

"Tom Skeldon has vigorously worked to prevent horrendous pit bull maulings resulting in serious injuries or death of human beings, their domesticated pets and livestock," the group announced on its Web site this week.

Founded last year by a Seattle victim of a pit-bull attack, DogsBite.org has supported proposals to ban new dogs of pit-bull breeds from Seattle. A representative could not be reached for comment.

Back home, Mr. Skeldon has proven particularly unpopular among pit bull owners and their supporters. He was the target this year of a petition drive calling for his firing, and was the subject in October of a public hearing organized by those who say he's too focused on law enforcement and not enough on promoting adoption of captured animals.

Mr. Skeldon said he doubts this new accolade will silence his critics. "I'm a lightning rod because Ohio's laws are breed-specific, and I enforce them vigorously."

Also this week, county commissioners voted 2-1 to create an advisory committee to suggest possible changes to the dog-warden position. The committee was originally Ben Konop's idea, but he voted against it.

Mr. Konop disagreed with a change offered by fellow Commissioner Pete Gerken that would have commissioners appoint members to the committee by choosing from a pool of candidates suggested by animal-welfare organizations.

Mr. Konop's initial proposal called for several animal-welfare organizations to name members. He said he feared appointments to the committee could be traded for political appointments.

The approved committee will have 11 members, including six appointed by the commissioners from recommendations of local animal-welfare groups. Commissioners also would appoint a member recommended by Toledo police, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, and Toledo Veterinary Medical Association, and two at-large spots.

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