Small dog killed despite being licensed

Family couldn’t pay to get pet at pound

8/17/2013
BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tiffany Cousino, Melissa Cousino’s daughter, answers the door at their mobile home park in Holland. She said her family did not bail out Cheerio from the Lucas County Dog Warden because it could not afford it.
Tiffany Cousino, Melissa Cousino’s daughter, answers the door at their mobile home park in Holland. She said her family did not bail out Cheerio from the Lucas County Dog Warden because it could not afford it.

Melissa Cousino bought a 2013 dog license for Cheerio, a small black-and-brown dog.

But when he was brought in as a stray July 18 to the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office, the Holland resident didn’t have the money to redeem him. Cheerio was killed by the dog warden Thursday.

Ms. Cousino did not return a call seeking comment and she was not at home Friday afternoon. But a girl who identified herself as Ms. Cousino’s daughter, who opened the door to the mobile home, said the family had received the certified letter alerting them that the beagle-mix dog was at the pound.

“We didn’t have the money to go get him out,” Tiffany Cousino said. When told the dog had been killed, she repeated herself.

Usually a dog license is a ticket home for a dog. Dog warden employees strive to return dogs they pick up that have licenses to their owners without even bringing them to the pound. Last year, they returned 114 licensed dogs running at large to owners’ homes.

In Cheerio’s case. the license didn’t help get him back home because he wasn’t wearing it when he came in and his owners couldn’t afford to pay the fees once he had been at the pound a few days. “His owners did come in and identify him but never came back,” Dog Warden Julie Lyle said.

Cheerio could not go up for adoption because he failed the behavior evaluation all dogs must undergo before being placed up for adoption. He did not like being handled and he showed food-guarding tendencies, Ms. Lyle said.

A dog license normally is a ticket home for a dog at the pound. But Cheerio was killed.
A dog license normally is a ticket home for a dog at the pound. But Cheerio was killed.

The department offered him to rescue groups that routinely take dogs from the pound and none was able to take him, she said. He was posted to the closed Facebook group that rescue groups have access to Aug. 7, and the groups were told they had a week to offer to take him or else he would be killed.

When the dog was brought in, he was not wearing a collar with a license tag, Ms. Lyle said. The department was able to search dog licenses in the area he was found and figured out he was Ms. Cousino’s dog. They then tried to call her with the number she had furnished when she bought the license. They then sent her the certified letter.

Ohio law requires pounds to hold unlicensed dogs at least three days before killing them. Licensed dogs must be held 14 days. Cheerio was held nearly a month.

How much it would have cost to bail out Cheerio would have depended on when he was picked up, Ms. Lyle said. If he had been picked up the first day, the fee would have been $45, which includes $15 for the first-day kenneling fee, a $25 fine for not wearing his license, and $5 for posting, which is the certified letter that is sent out, Ms. Lyle said. If he had been wearing his license, it would have been $20 total that first day.

If he had been claimed after the first day, the second-day boarding fee is $10 and each day after that is $8.

The dog warden will work with people who have financial issues and give them extra time to come up with money, Ms. Lyle said. “There’s a million reasons why people don’t redeem their dogs,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to get dogs back home. But we can’t make people take them.”

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