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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 4/16/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

25 rescued animals put strain on Toledo Area Humane Society

BY ALEXANDRA MESTER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Animal-care specialist Laura Woda puts one of the many lab mixes that were seized into a pen at the Toledo Area Humane Society in Maumee. The other three dogs pictured are part of the same pack. Animal-care specialist Laura Woda puts one of the many lab mixes that were seized into a pen at the Toledo Area Humane Society in Maumee. The other three dogs pictured are part of the same pack.
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A few of the 25 dogs and cats seized last week from a Toledo home and surrendered to the Toledo Area Humane Society are already up for adoption.

After a complaint from a neighbor, the organization Friday removed 19 dogs, mostly yellow Labrador retriever mixes, and six cats from Michael Suiter’s home in the 2200 block of Portsmouth Avenue. The humane society worked with Mr. Suiter’s wife, from whom he is separated, during the seizure.

One of the three female cats gave birth to a litter of six kittens at the shelter Tuesday morning, and the other two are pregnant.

Mr. Suiter could not be reached by The Blade for comment.

While the animals were all in good physical condition, save for some minor injuries presumed to be from skirmishes for dominance, the unsanitary conditions they were living in prompted the seizure.

“It was pretty deplorable,” said Gene Boros, the animal-cruelty investigator handling the case. “There was feces [and urine] throughout with the food on the floor in piles.”

Mr. Boros had visited the home in July last year after a previous complaint from a neighbor about the smell.

“You could smell it walking up to the door,” Mr. Boros said.

The investigator posted a notice on the property and Mr. Suiter got in touch, letting the humane society know he was moving. When Mr. Boros next visited shortly after that conversation, the house was empty.

He believes Mr. Suiter had just moved back to the house three or four days before the humane society was called out last week.

Toledo city code does not have restrictions on the number of animals permitted in a home, but does have an animal-related health code prohibiting nuisance conditions that “create noxious or offensive odors or unsanitary conditions which are a menace to the health, comfort, or safety of the public.”

An unnamed 1-year-old cat nurses her six kittens Tuesday after giving birth at the Toledo Area Humane Society in Maumee. It was one of three pregnant cats seized Friday from a Toledo home. An unnamed 1-year-old cat nurses her six kittens Tuesday after giving birth at the Toledo Area Humane Society in Maumee. It was one of three pregnant cats seized Friday from a Toledo home.
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Mr. Boros said Mr. Suiter told him he had initially wanted to start rescuing animals and took in a couple of dogs and cats with that intention. Those animals were not spayed or neutered and they bred. Their offspring also were not altered, leading to the overpopulation.

“He had good intentions, but it got out of hand and he didn’t know what to do,” Mr. Boros said.

Gary Willoughby, executive director of the donation-funded humane society, said large-scale seizures, particularly when they are unexpected, place a strain on the organization’s resources.

Although a dog-adoption special over the weekend freed up some space for small dogs and puppies, the seized Lab mixes are in larger kennels. Some of them are doubled up to accommodate the influx.

The limited space will decrease the number of dogs the rescue can transfer from shelters like the Lucas County Canine Care & Control.

“We can pull some smaller dogs and puppies because we have some space there, but not much else,” Mr. Willoughby said.

A mother dog and her 4-week-old puppy have already been placed in one of the organization’s foster homes. The mother cat and her newborn kittens and the two pregnant cats also will need foster homes. Mr. Willoughby said the organization will likely use several more foster homes for some of the younger dogs who need to be socialized.

“I don’t think it’s going to be easy, but we should be able to handle it,” he said. “We’re still at the beginning of kitten and puppy season. If this had come a month or two later it would be a lot more difficult.”

Contact Alexandra Mester: amester@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.



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