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Published: Tuesday, 12/15/2009

‘Pit bull' pup freed from Lucas County Pound

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A puppy Monday escaped an almost certain death at the Lucas County Dog Warden's Office and is now in the care of an animal rescue group after a rare transfer of a “pit bull”-type dog out of the county's pound.

“I think this has set a precedent,” said Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, who supports adoption of “pit bull” puppies to responsible dog owners. “There is no such thing as a vicious puppy. If this didn't happen today, the dog would have been euthanized probably in a month or two, so this is a victory for the decent treatment of animals.”

The milk chocolate brown puppy, a female, arrived at the pound on Nov. 25 after Toledo police found her “confined in a nasty fecal-covered portable kennel” while serving a warrant at 721 Spring St. in North Toledo.

The puppy was placed in the pound's isolation area because kennel workers believed she was sick and feared that she could be blind because her eyes were cloudy.

Under traditional circumstances, the puppy could have soon faced euthanasia under

Dog Warden Tom Skeldon's longstanding policy against adopting or transferring out any “pit bulls” from the pound. Mr. Skeldon is to leave office at year-end and retire Jan. 31.

But the puppy made it through yesterday — and into the care of Planned Pethood Inc. — thanks to the county's recently adopted moratorium against puppy killing at the pound. County commissioners passed the moratorium Nov. 24, the day before the pup was picked up.

Once a “pit bull” dog reaches 3 months of age, there are no restrictions against Mr. Skeldon's practice of killing all adult “pit bulls” regardless of behavior.

‘This is a victory for the decent treatment of animals,' says County Commissioner Ben Konop. ‘This is a victory for the decent treatment of animals,' says County Commissioner Ben Konop.
JEREMY WADSWORTH / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

A “pit bull” is a generic descriptive term for a dog trained to fight and may refer to multiple breeds, including the American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, and other mixed breeds that Mr. Skeldon can determine to be “pit bulls.” Ohio law considers “pit bulls” inherently vicious.

Nikki Morey, executive director of rescue group Planned Pethood, visited the pound yesterday to inquire about a litter of non-“pit bull” puppies that she said she heard were there.

All but one of those puppies had been adopted already, she said. Ms. Morey said she was browsing the pound's isolation area for the unadopted pup, which was sick, when she noticed the brown “pit bull” mix puppy. The dog looked like it could be part weimaraner, she said.

At first, pound officials wouldn't give Ms. Morey the dog. Not only does Mr. Skeldon forbid adopting out “pit bulls,” but he refuses to give any dogs to “all-breed” rescue groups aside from the Toledo Area Humane Society.

So Ms. Morey enlisted the help of Mr. Konop, who sent a staff member to the pound to help her get the dog. After a several-hour standoff, the dog warden's office agreed to transfer the “pit bull” to John Dinon, the humane society's executive director, who could then transfer the puppy to Ms. Morey.

Mr. Konop noted yesterday how the moratorium resolution passed last month also required the pound to “make every effort to see that healthy puppies surrendered to the county are adopted or transferred to the Toledo Area Humane Society and area rescue centers.”

Although initially reluctant to break from past policy to have the “pit bull” leave the pound, Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak explained in a statement yesterday afternoon that “we chose to give this puppy to the humane society after the county consulted with John Dinon about its health and adoptability.”

While signing the dog transfer papers, Mr. Dinon said the occasion marked the first time in recent memory that the humane society received a “pit bull” from the dog warden.

“This is a little bit unusual, and I think we need to work out a procedure so it's not an event every time dogs get transferred,” he said.

The pup seemed to have largely recovered from its illness and regained much of its vision. Mr. Dinon carried her out in a dog carrier, which he set down in the parking lot beside Ms. Morey's vehicle. Ms. Morey then loaded the dog into a cage in the back of her vehicle.

Ms. Morey said the puppy will live with a foster family while the organization looks to find a new, permanent home for her with a responsible owner.

— JC Reindl



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