Whether justified, the Mahon- ing County dog pound has long had the reputation of being a dumping ground for strays and unwanted pets, with a staff overwhelmed and, thus, unable to properly care for the animals. Today, however, the pound is drawing praise from some of its past critics — thanks in large part to county Dog Warden Matt Ditchey.
Ditchey was hired by the commissioners in May, and since that time has worked tirelessly to not only change the reputation of the facility, but to make the humane caring of the animals a top priority. It is not surprising, therefore, that philanthropists such as Mary Lariccia are now actively involved in the dog pound.
Her commitment to the facility goes beyond the time she volunteers. She has pledged $100,000 toward the $715,000 expansion that has been proposed to provide for the proper housing and care of the animals.
A $3 million facility in Akron, which Ditchey, Lariccia, executives of various county animal welfare agencies and the commissioners toured recently, is the template for the Mahoning County dog pound.
The Akron facility was funded by proceeds from the sale of bonds, but the financing scheme for Mahoning County is a combination of local public dollars, private donations and grants from the state and federal governments or from animal welfare organizations.
A fund-raising drive is being planned, which will give animal lovers a chance to be a part of something positive and necessary.
The expansion would involve 55 new individual kennels, a new service counter to facilitate dog adoptions and dog-license purchases and two enclosed outdoor play areas for the dogs.