Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rising number of pit bulls in county "disturbing trend'

By Mike Sever, The Record Publishing Company

The Portage County dog warden reported “a disturbing trend” in the rising number of pit bull-type dogs coming to the county pound.
Dog Warden Dave McIntyre said dog control officers took in more than 70 more pit bulls in 2010 than in 2009. And, McIntyre told Portage County commissioners last week that dog control officers have not yet canvassed in areas where pit bulls are known to be prevalent.
McIntyre reported that 92 pit bulls or pit bull-type dogs were euthanized under Ohio’s law that deems all pit bulls to be vicious. Another 14 pit bull-type dogs were sent to rescue groups and a number of such dogs were retrieved by their owners.
Legislation has been offered in the General Assembly to change the state law that automatically condemns any stray dog that looks like a pit bull.
McIntyre said the pound on Infirmary Road in Shalersville, took in 684 dogs in 2010 that were not owner surrenders or pit bull-type dogs. A total of 60 dogs were surrendered by their owners.
Of the strays picked up, 27.4 percent were returned to their owners. That number was up 1.4 percent over 2009, McIntyre said. He attributed that in part to the increased sale of dog licenses, making it easier to identify dogs. Last year the county sold 24,800 dog licenses compared to 22,320 in 2009.
McIntyre also has started a new lost and found program that helps reunite owners with unlicensed dogs.
“We’ve already matched up two dogs that had been in the kennel for two weeks with their owners,” McIntyre said.
Another 229 dogs were adopted from the shelter. That was a half-percent increase over 2009.
Of the remainder, 41 dogs were taken to the Portage Animal Protective League and 165 dogs were rescued by other groups.
Thirty dogs were euthanized because of sickness and 31 were euthanized for being vicious, McIntyre said.
That 9 percent euthanization rate is the lowest at the pound since at least 1990, according to figures offered last week. Since taking the job three years ago, McIntyre has steadily increased the number of dogs returned to owners, adopted or taken by rescue groups. When he became dog warden, more than a third of all dogs brought in were killed. In 2008, McIntyre cut that to 19 percent. It was 17 percent in 2009.
McIntyre said the sluggish economy continues to affect his operation. He said usually most strays are picked up during the summer and the numbers begin to taper off as the season ends. This year that did not happen.
According to McIntyre, Ravenna Township is the largest source of dogs in the pound, with 105 animals taken in last year. Ravenna city was second with 99 followed by Brimfield and Shalersville with 54 each.
The numbers decline from there to Hiram where only one dog was taken in at the pound.

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