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Published: 12/28/2011

‘Fire dog’ under care of the county warden

Animal might have chance to find home

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Laura Simmons, office operations manager for the Lucas County Dog Warden, holds the shepherd mix saved from a fire. Laura Simmons, office operations manager for the Lucas County Dog Warden, holds the shepherd mix saved from a fire.
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It is said cats have nine lives, but at least one Toledo dog may have been granted the same good fortune.

A currently nameless tan shepherd-mix dog -- possibly abandoned by her owners -- was saved by city firefighters early Saturday morning from the second floor of a burning, vacant North Toledo house. She is now being cared for at the Lucas County Dog Warden's Office and may have a chance for a new home.

Dog Warden Julie Lyle said the 5-year-old female dog, which did not have a microchip or dog license tag, is doing well. She will be held for three business days, through Thursday, so that any potential owner may claim her.

After the holding period, she'll be evaluated and may be put up for adoption -- if she passes the temperament test. She is currently unnamed because dogs at the pound aren't given names until they are evaluated, Ms. Lyle said.

Toledo fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld said firefighters returning from a run at 2:20 a.m. saw flames at 1712 N. Erie St. They stopped to put out the fire and called for help from other units.

Ms. Lyle said animals are abandoned fairly frequently. The Toledo Area Humane Society usually handles abandonment cases except when it's after business hours, such was the case with this dog.

"There have been a handful of 'fire dogs' since I've been here," said Ms. Lyle, who took over the dog warden post in April, 2010. "Sometimes it's dogs abandoned when the owner moves from the house, sometimes stray dogs find houses to live in on their own. Sometimes it's people sticking their dogs in abandoned houses where they are conducting inappropriate business."

Ideally, if owners can't keep their pets, they will care enough about them to take them to a shelter where they can be fed and protected and given the chance at being re-homed, said John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society. "Over the last couple of years with the economy being so rough, we've seen a lot of abandoned animals," he said. "It's amazing how common it is."

Dying from starvation is not a pleasant death for an animal, Mr. Dinon said. "Just bring them to us," he said. "Or if you suspect an animal has been abandoned, call us as soon as possible."

Lieutenant Hertzfeld said it was not known why the dog was in the house. There were indications of gangs using the house but it also could have been a squatter living there with the dog.

Neighbors said the house hasn't been legally occupied for several years, though squatters were using it over the summer. The dog had not been seen around the neighborhood before being found by the firefighters Saturday.

The property belongs to Merivale Investments LLC of Tarpon Springs, Fla., according to the Lucas County auditor's Web site. The fire is being investigated as an arson, Lieutenant Hertzfeld said.

Several dogs have shown up at the dog warden's office after being abandoned. The dog warden adopted out a Rottweiler/Labrador mix Feb. 10 that had been left behind in Curtice, Ohio, by its owner, who had moved.

Last December, a Labrador/great dane mix that was abandoned with a note, later tried to bite a dog warden employee, and was euthanized as a result. A similar story played out Sept. 21, 2010, when a giant schnauzer that was abandoned after its owner died also tried to bite a dog warden employee and subsequently was euthanized.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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