From left: Tom Skeldon and chart depicting dramatic drop in euthanasia.
Interview with Dog Warden
Toledo, OH - On Friday November 20th, the "Yellow" Blade1 reported that Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon submitted his resignation (view letter), effective January 31, after 22 years of service. According to Pete Gerken, president of the board of Lucas County commissioners, Skeldon will take advantage of accrued vacation time and make December 31 his last day in office. Skeldon's resignation follows weeks of unfair journalism by JC Reindl at the Toldeo Blade.
Skeldon's stepping aside should have marked the end of the anti-Skeldon crusade led by Commissioner Ben Konop and penned by JC Reindl, but it was not. After damaging Skeldon's reputation by printing false and misleading data about the Lucas County Animal Shelter, as well as by branding him a "puppy killer," the two2 are now trying to exclude Skeldon from a proposed county buyout program that he is eligible to receive, and that Konop actually designed and introduced.
The Price of Telling the Truth
Konop and Reindl, along with heavy backing from the "Yellow" Blade, essentially ousted Skeldon for telling the truth about county shelter euthanization rates3, which are mimicked nationwide, and his enforcement of Ohio State and Lucas County pit bull laws. A recent report showed that the Lucas County Animal Shelter's kill rate was 66%4 (with the Blade reporting 77%). Yet, half of these dogs were pit bulls and county policy prohibits the adoption of pit bulls (view chart).
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. -Schopenhauer
Last year, DogsBite.org bestowed upon Tom Skeldon its award for "Dog Warden of the Year," which details the contributions Skeldon has made to Lucas County residents. By vigorously enforcing the "no adopt out" pit bull policy, which lies at the heart of the anti-Skeldon crusade, Skeldon has refused to place residents and their pets at risk to a disfiguring attack. Also, while under Skeldon's leadership, Lucas County had the highest dog license compliance rate in all of Ohio in 2008.
The Loss of a Powerful Advocate
As Bard Knapp, president of the Ohio County Dog Wardens' Association and the Erie County Dog Warden, recently told the "Yellow" Blade, "It's a sad day for the dog warden profession in Ohio. We lost a very valued and experienced person who succumbed to the pressure of the media and personal vendettas." Current and future victims of serious dog attacks in Lucas County and across the nation have also lost one of the most powerful voices that speaks on their behalf.
DogsBite.org and all of our followers will dearly miss Tom Skeldon.
Video Note: On Saturday, we posted a "preview" video of the Conklin and Company segment with Tom Skeldon. Late Sunday, we were able to post the complete segment. Skeldon explains in the full interview that the latest "puppy killing" claim did not involve non pit bull puppies as reported by the dog owner and the "Yellow" Blade. The puppies, it turns out, were pit bulls and under county law, the county shelter cannot adopt them out.
Skeldon also details the number of dogs euthanized during his reign. In 1979, the last year the Toledo Humane Society held the animal control contract, the society euthanized 10,581 dogs. By 1989, 10 years after the county assumed the role of dog warden -- Skeldon was appointed in October 1987 -- the number of euthanizations had dropped to 3,312. By 2009, the number fell even lower to 1,784.
Ohio statewide pit bull legislation (Section 955.11) was passed in July 1987, several months prior to Mr. Skeldon being instated as the dog warden. Skeldon told Conklin, "Those groups that have championed my dismissal, those groups can't change the law in Columbus, but they might be able to kill the messenger in Toledo."
2Qualifying both Konop and Reindl as "pit bull jihadists," as neither fall into the larger category of being "pit bull advocates."
3Unlike private humane groups, county shelters cannot "choose" their dogs, they must accept all incoming dogs, many of which have behavioral and health issues.
4The 66% or 77% issue lies in the incorrect data gathered by the oversight committee. The committee failed to include the number of dogs the Lucas County Dog Warden sent to the Toledo Humane Society and were adopted out. The "Yellow" Blade is perfectly aware of this fact, yet continues to report the "77%" statistic.
01/09/09: DogsBite.org Announces Our Annual Awards for the Year 2008
08/23/08: Public Safety Hero Tom Skeldon Under Fire by Pit Bull Advocates
05/01/08: Lucas County Dog Warden Nails Aspect of Pit Bull Problem