Every week, Wood County Dog Warden Rodney Cook prints up 50 or so flyers featuring dogs in need of homes. Volunteers post them in area stores, restaurants, and animal shelters.
"We work with rescue groups. We adopt out to rescues. We put our dogs on the Internet," Mr. Cook said. "I would much rather see them go out the front door to a new home than euthanasia."
Wood County, like many rural area counties, has a relatively lower kill rate than does neighboring Lucas County, hovering just under 40 percent. In 2008, Wood County euthanized 283 of the 768 dogs it impounded. So far this year, 219 of the 552 impounded dogs have been euthanized.
"Out of the 219 euthanized, 134 were nonadoptable," Mr. Cook said. "They were aggressive or sick, and 17 more were surrendered by their owners for euthanasia.
"Our adoption rate for adoptable dogs is around 82.6 percent. I would like to see that be 100 percent, which we all would, but in reality that is a pretty decent number. I'd like to see it higher, but when you get aggressive dogs in, you can't send them out for someone to get bit."
Although officials in both Wood and Fulton counties say they do not adopt out dogs considered vicious under Ohio law, across the state line in Michigan, Monroe County Animal Control Officer Linda Benson said her agency - the equivalent of a county dog warden in Ohio - does adopt out breeds considered to be under the "pit bull" moniker, if they're well behaved.
"We do not judge dogs by their breed. We judge dogs by their behavior," Ms. Benson said. "A bad dog is a bad dog, and it doesn't matter what the breed is. A good dog is a good dog even if it's a 'pit bull.' … We do not put them down just because they're 'pit bulls.'•"
Last year, Monroe County took in 1,231 dogs and euthanized 443, or about 36 percent. So far this year, 938 have been taken in and 329 have been killed, although Ms. Benson said more than 260 of those were dogs surrendered by owners who paid $25 for euthanization.
That compares with Lucas County's kill rate of 77 percent if dogs reclaimed by owners are not counted. If counted, Lucas County's kill rate is 66 percent.
The Monroe County animal control office is linked to petfinder.com and does what it can to promote adoptions, Ms. Benson said.
"You cannot save them all, and the only time they're put to sleep here is when they are not adoptable," she said. "We don't just put them down."
In Fulton County, Deputy Dog Warden Brian Banister said the agency has worked closely with rescue groups, particularly Planned Pethood Inc., which sends a representative out weekly to take adoptable dogs.
Mr. Banister said the representative, with whom he has worked three or four years, "does an absolutely fantastic job."
In 2008, Fulton County euthanized 384, or about 38 percent, of the 1,007 dogs it took in. Through Sept. 26 this year, 192, or about 28 percent, of the 675 dogs it took in were killed.
Ottawa County Dog War-
den JoLynn Hetrick could not be reached for comment, but statistics provided by the county commissioners' office show the warden euthanized 101, or 45 percent, of the 224 dogs taken in last year. Through July 31 of this year, 37, or 28 percent, of the 133 dogs impounded were euthanized.
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