Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle pets Teddy, a 6-month-old 'pit bull' that she took for a walk. She says 'pit bulls' still will be killed unless takers are found for them.
The bill Gov. John Kasich signed Tuesday ends Ohio's status as the only state to designate a single dog breed as vicious, but it doesn't solve the underlying overpopulation problem that results in "pit bulls" being killed at the pound, said Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle.
"There are going to have to be an awful lot of places for them to go," Ms. Lyle said. "It's not like after the law changes, there are going to be 100 people at my door who want to adopt a 'pit bull.' They are going to continue to sit here, and we will continue to have to euthanize them. Warehousing them is not the humane alternative."
On two days last week, eight "pit bull"-type dogs were killed because the Lucas County pound was at capacity for such dogs.
Meanwhile, Ms. Lyle said, she has 14 "pit bull"-type dogs that are 6 months and older and four that are under 6 months that have passed the temperament test and need transfer partners to step up and take them.
About 40 percent of the dogs the pound takes in are "pit bulls." The pound is currently not adopting out "pit bulls" directly to the public, but is expected to do so after the law goes into effect.
Ms. Lyle loosened the requirements several weeks ago for groups to take "pit bulls" directly from the pound.
Since that time, of the nearly two dozen rescue groups the pound works with, only two -- You Lucky Dog and the Lucas County Pit Crew -- have stepped up to take the dogs. Before the rule change, when the pound required groups to have shelters in order to take "pit bulls," the Toledo Area Humane Society took 91 "pit bull"-type dogs in 2011, some of which were transferred to the Pit Crew or to Planned Pethood Inc.
Nikki Morey, Planned Pethood executive director, said the group has applied to take "pit bulls" from the dog warden and will do so in the future when she has a foster home open that is willing to take that breed.
"Other counties have never limited what breeds we could take, so we take whatever we can, when we can," Ms. Morey said. "If we have a foster family that likes 'pit bulls,' we always make sure they have another one if they want it. To the same token, if a family is one that likes beagles, I can't require they take a 'pit bull.' "
There are currently "pit bulls" at the shelter who have been waiting for months for a transfer partner, Ms. Lyle said. How long they can stay before they are killed by the pound varies from dog to dog and depends on how quickly their temperament degrades as a result of sitting in a cage, Ms. Lyle said.
Dogs are re-evaluated monthly, and if their behavior continues to be sound, they will continue to be held, she said.
Jean Keating, co-founder of the Lucas County Pit Crew, said rescue groups in the Toledo area should focus their energies on rescuing animals in need at the Lucas County Dog Warden instead of taking dogs from neighboring counties or even from out of state.
The Toledo Animal Shelter no longer will take dogs of any breed from the pound after taking a dog a few years back that had a bacterial infection that caused several other dogs in the small facility to also become very ill, said the group's executive director, Helen Bensch. The group has not adopted out "pit bull"-type dogs previously because of the previous law. Whether the group changes its policy is up to its board of directors, Ms. Bensch said.
"Because of all the media bias, it's going to take awhile to realize 'pit bulls' are just dogs, not werewolves," said Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney at Best Friends Animal Society, who testified in support of the bill before both the House and Senate.
Humane Ohio has spayed or neutered 347 pit bulls through the Lucas County Dog Warden's Fix-a-Bull promotion since it began in April, 2011. The grant is for 500 "pit bulls" or "pit-bull" mixes that are currently licensed and live in Toledo to be fixed and get a microchip for $5 each. Humane Ohio also fixed an additional 100 "pit-bulls" or pit mixes in 2011 through its "Primp Your Pit" promotion, said Jill Borkowski, a spokesman for the group.
"There are still some myths surrounding spay/neuter, and some men are resistant to the idea of 'taking away their pet's manhood,' so a big part of our job is to educate people about the health and behavioral benefits that go along with spay/neuter," she said.
Contact Tanya Irwin at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6066.
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