By Susan Tebben
Mahoning County Dog Warden Matt Ditchey has mixed feelings about leaving his post of two years. His work companions have made his job rewarding, and he wonders who will take care of the dogs.
“I’m excited about a lot of the stuff we’ve done while I was dog warden,” said Ditchey, whose last day on the job was Saturday.
“We’ve only euthanized one dog this year, and that’s really amazing.”
The agency has done so by working with various animal organizations to move dogs around and avoid them staying in one pound or shelter that was too full to accommodate the dogs.
“You can’t save every dog, but we work with rescue groups to try to send dogs to areas where there aren’t as many dogs, where there is the room to keep the dogs until someone can come and give the dog a home,” Ditchey said.
Ditchey is an attorney by trade, but his love for dogs drove him during his time as warden.
“There’s not as many dog wardens that actually like dogs as you’d like to think,” he said.
When Ditchey was hired in April 2011, he said he planned to keep his law license current while working as a full-time dog warden. Commissioners approved his salary at the time at $45,000.
Now that Ditchey has left the post for medical reasons, the Mahoning County commissioners begin the task of finding a dog warden that will “do what is right when it comes to the dog,” as Ditchey puts it.
The commission put an advertisement in The Vindicator classified section for a dog warden, with a May 22 deadline for applications. Not only does a dog warden have to have animal control experience, but also Ohio Peace Officer firearms training. A salary is not listed in the ad.
The commissioners are looking for more than just the resume qualifications as well, because of Ditchey’s example.
“[Ditchey] has done a great job in kind of turning this county around from one of the counties that euthanizes the most dogs to a state that does it the least and I think it is important is to continue in the direction that [Ditchey] started,” Commissioner Dave Ditzler said.
One of the most important points Ditchey said should be in the near future for the agency is a new county dog pound to replace the deteriorating building.
“It’s a sad, sad place,” Ditchey said.
Though the commission is “still in meetings” about ideas for a new or renovated dog pound, Ditzler said the facility is important to the commission as well.
He said he would like to see a partnership between the county and possibly Animal Charities in the venture.