Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lunacy in Toledo

One learns to expect outrageous dog advocacy stories from Toledo but this one is so far out there it requires its own blog post.  We will cover a lot of ground, from the Vatican to Toledo with a stop in Arizona.

Very recently it was reported that Pope Francis remarked to a child grieving the loss of his dog that heaven is open to all creatures and that the boy would see his dog again.  Toledo Councilman Jack Ford, former mayor of Toledo and a non Catholic, took that and ran with it. Ford wants "death row dogs" to get a "second chance" and wants dog warden Julie Lyle to hire an outside evaluator to assess the dogs.  Ford said per the Toledo Blade "“When the Pope made that comment, that just did it for me. ... There is nothing wrong with being progressive to help any living creature,”


Councilman Ford.

Reality check, dogs are on "death row" for a reason, aggression, illness, old age with disability.  In Toledo that decision to euthanize at Lucas County Care and Control is made by Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle.  Lyle was hired as county dog warden succeeding former dog warden Tom Skeldon with the blessing of the Toledo Blade. A little history here, The Toledo Blade, in association with Toledo area pit bull advocate Jean Keating,  participated in a lengthy campaign  to drive former Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon from office because of his protocols for dealing with pit bulls. This quote is from Jean Keating "the only way to end it, once and for all, in Ohio was to remove Tom Skeldon. That became my mission and consumed much of my time for about two years."

Lets look at what Julie Lyle is sending to "death row."  The Toledo Blade runs a daily feature, "Lucas County Dogs for Adoption" which also lists dogs euthanized at the shelter.  Today is  12/16/2014 and here is the list of euthanized dogs.  First is a pit bull, stray, brought in by animal control, bit someone in the community.  Second, a pit bull that failed the behavior evaluation, brought in by police, a stray.  Third, a Chihuahua mix with a severe injury, a fear biter and a stray.  Number four, a pit bull, owner surrender, failed behavior evaluation.  Number five, another pit bull failing the behavior evaluation, a stray.  Sixth, a Boxer, failed the behavior eval, owner surrender. Seventh, a Beagle in extremely poor physical condition, emaciated and unable to stand, an owner surrender. The final dog on the list is another pit bull, a stray, failed the behavior evaluation, brought in by a citizen.  No rescue group stepped forward to take these dogs.  Does anyone think that like these, failing behavior evaluations, and dogs too badly injured, or too old and sick to be humanely kept by their owners should be returned to the community?  

Councilmen Mike Craig and Rob Ludeman have taken leave of their senses and agree with Ford.   The three held a news conference stating "said the pound should consider “a stronger sense of basic fairness,” or due process, for dogs before the canines are killed."  “I would like the dog warden to implement a pilot program for dogs, similar in concept to the guardian ad litem program we currently have for children, that would take the dog warden and her team out of the role of total evaluator, prosecutor, and ultimately executioner, and bring in an individual from the outside to evaluate the dog prior to final disposition of its life,”

Councilman Ludeman
Toledo District 3
Councilman Craig

The zany trio suggest that the guardians ad litem be volunteers, amateurs, like say, Jean Keating the well known and high profile pit bull advocate.  Keating has not been suggested for this position, only my opinion on this part.  

Long suffering Lucas County dog Warden Julie Lyle has said that no such program exists  in any shelter and that the Lucas County shelter already has four evaluators on payroll.  Per the Blade “There’d be absolutely no reason to have outside folks do it when we have the most certified evaluators than any shelter I’ve ever seen,” “I think it’s important that we have trained, certified evaluators that know dogs, and that’s what we have.”

The Blade goes on to the mandatory quote from Jean Keating, her thoughts on the souls of pets.

At this point I would like to mention a pilot program already in place at the Lucas County shelter dealing with dogs failing the behavior evaluations.  Dogs failing the food guarding portion of the behavior evaluation are given additional time in the shelter and are free fed in an effort to reduce food guarding behaviors.  After a week the dogs are reassessed and if improvement is noted they get another week. Rescues are involved in this process and they will receive an incentive of $100 for each dog they take from the program and the $50 transfer fee is waived.  Of the first 27 dogs participating in the study eighteen failed to improve and were euthanized, six went to rescues ($600 paid in incentives and a total of $300 in waived transfer fees) and three more are still at the shelter.  

One dog that failed in the program was being rehabilitated at the Toledo Correctional Institute through the Prisoners Helping Dogs program.  The dog bit his inmate trainer in an aggressive response over a toy and was euthanized. When the prison population is being bitten by dogs being groomed for re entry into the community we have a problem.  Shout out to Mickey the mauler and Sheriff Joe Arpiao and a link to the Mickey cam.  For those who might be aware of the story here, Mickey mauled a small child and was expected to be euthanized.  Pit bull advocates went wild demanding that Mickey should live out his life in comfort. Mickey will live out the remainder of his life in luxury at a no kill shelter run by Sheriff Joe Arpiao.  

Here is a photo of Mickey's victim, Kevin Vincente as he is today.

Here is Kevin after his attack

But I have digressed yet again, back to the new program to save dogs that have already failed the food guarding portion of the behavior evaluation at Lucas County Care and Control.

Several dogs showed initial improvement in the shelter but no rescue was willing to take the dogs so they were euthanized.  It has been announced that in the future any dog showing improvement will kept at the shelter (at taxpayer expense) until a rescue turns up that will accept the dog. How much money is being invested here?  This program was suggested by the president of the Lucas County board of Commissioners Carol Contrada. Presumably the residents of Lucas County are paying the bills.

It is important to recognize that dogs from this program are not offered for adoption to the public directly from the shelter because of public safety concerns.  Rescues with limited financial resources to compensate a potential victim of a mauling by one of these dogs will, however, traffick them right back into the community.  

Here are Dog Warden Lyle's thoughts on that.  Ms. Lyle said once the county shelter sees potential aggression in a dog, it cannot be adopted from there out of a concern for public safety.
It seems that the Toledo officials who went shopping for a dog warden without scruples after the resignation of Tom Skeldon may have gotten a bit more than they expected with Julie Lyle and it seems that the Blade is not pleased.  It appears that the expensive program already in place to save dogs that have failed behavior testing is not enough. 

As usual, I have digressed.  Lets return to the Pope.  The Pope never made the comments that form the basis for former Toledo mayor and current city councilman Ford's desire to save "death row" dogs 
Per Religion News Service "  There’s only one problem: None of it ever happened.
The Italian version of the Huffington Post picked up the false story and and it went viral, false but viral.  Who knew that Italy was also infested with Huffington Post animal advocates?  

Here is the teaching of the Catholic Church.  Catechism of the Catholic Church Part three, Life in Christ 2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.  

Here are the thoughts of Pope Francis regarding pets and children. He warns against placing animals above children in importance. Per Religion News Service  "But he went a step further and strongly criticized those couples who choose not to have children, saying they had been influenced by a culture of “well-being” that says life is better without kids.  “You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree,” the pope said.  “It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or not? Have you seen it?
The Catholic Church teaches that the priority in spending money should be to the relief of human misery and even uses the hard to accept word "unworthy" in spending money on animals when humans are in need.  The Pope has clearly said that children are to be valued above pets.  

In Toledo a non-Catholic former mayor has stated that a comment the Pope did not make inspired him to promote a program to give second chances to dogs already judged by professionals too dangerous or too sick to return to the community at tremendous financial cost and an early record of failure in Toledo Ohio.  Using the comment not made by the Pope the councilman has suggested that dogs already evaluated by professionals be again evaluated, this time by amateurs. These dogs are to be sent to rescues, many will be fostered in private homes.  Children, peaceful neighbors, gentle pets will be put at risk. The Pope has warned against elevating animals over children while a child devastated by disfiguring injuries and now blind in one eye  struggles to recover.  The dog causing the injuries lives in luxury with a mauler cam in his well appointed room so the mauler's fans can watch him anytime they choose.  


My head spins.

I need to rest in a dimly lit room with a cool cloth to my forehead.  I was hoping for sense and found none.