2013-08-03 / Editorials & Letters

County shelter doing less with more

Editor:

A recent story in a local Newark paper gives a very false impression of our local dog pound (aka Licking County Animal Shelter). The story is titled “More Shelter Pets Finding homes, setting records.” This story uses the statistics from the Licking County HUMANE SOCIETY and the Licking County ANIMAL SHELTER (aka dog pound) and portrays both facilities as “setting records” in Licking County.

HOWEVER, the truth is that there may have been records set but NOT as that reporter thinks or as head dog warden John Silva would have you believe. I won’t argue about the numbers reported from the humane society and the fact that their numbers are record breaking. I will argue about the illusion that John Silva or anyone else would try to make you think that the pound has a “90% live release rate” and qualifies the pound as a “no kill” shelter! That is a ridiculous statement! Rescue groups and humane societies in Licking County have been bombarded for a couple of years now because of the services no longer provided by the pound.

John Silva (who was/is a long time friend of former dog warden Jon Luzio) was hired at our pound in March 2009 by two of the three county commissioners (Smith and Bubb) and, I believe, at the recommendation of the former dog warden, Luzio. Silva was in the process of retiring from the Cuyahoga County dog pound when he was hired here in Licking County.

The budget for the pound was $463,000 in 2012 and grew to $567,000 in 2013. Most of the increases were for salaries and benefits.

But a decrease was noted in the budget for “vet expense” and “vaccines”.

In 2009, the pound took in 833 dogs and probably 400 cats (guessing since they didn’t keep records of cats) by the middle of June. This year, the pound took in only 374 dogs by the same date in June and a minimal amount of cats. But, considering that the pound typically no longer takes owner surrendered dogs or cruelty cases, that’s not surprising. Our pound only takes STRAY dogs - no owner surrenders, no cruelty cases, and no more cats (well a couple here and there maybe)! Of those 374 dogs that were taken, 33 were euthanized. And, of the 33 euthanized, almost half of them were noted as pit bulls or pit mixes.

Intake numbers have been steadily decreasing since John Silva took over. There was nothing quick or surprising about it as Silva reportedly claimed. Silva is running Licking County like he ran Cuyahoga County. So, of course, if you take in only a small percentage of the animals you had been taking, it would stand to reason that you could make it APPEAR as though people were being more responsible when quoting your intake numbers.

Our county pound was built with our tax dollars and allowed for two cat rooms. Each cat room was capable of housing 30+ cats. The pound used our tax dollars to take in HUNDREDS of dogs and cats per year until Silva was hired! Silva doesn’t take cats now and even though the pound takes in FAR LESS animals than they ever have, the budget keeps going up!

The budget for the pound in 2012 was $463,000. It is now $567,000! The line items for things such as vaccines and vet expenses were decreased, but employee salaries and benefits were increased! In other words, Silva hired more people to do less work! And not only was Silva hired from another county, I believe the last four employees were all hired from Knox County!

It is sad and sickening when I get call after call, day after day, of someone who is losing their home and trying to find a place for a cat or dog. Sadder yet is finding someone was evicted from a home and left behind animals that now are dying from starvation, dehydration or any other number of reasons. The Licking County Animal Shelter (aka dog pound) should really change their name to the Licking County STRAY DOG ONLY POUND!

Bonnie Mansfield
Buckeye Lake

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