Model deal gives abandoned, stray dogs a new lease on life

For many centuries, animals have taken center stage on this day when Christians throughout the world celebrate the beauty and miracle of new life. Be they baby chicks, bunnies, lambs, butterflies and even pigs, animals embody the essence of fresh hope and joy of Easter, the holiday that triumphantly heralds the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Not to be left out this year from this season of joy and hope are the tens of thousands of dogs and dog lovers throughout Mahoning County. As a result of cooperative, compassionate and commendable actions between the Mahoning County Dog Pound and the Western Reserve Port Authority earlier this month, stray and unwanted canines in the county will soon have a much more spacious and humane shelter from the elements.

To the casual observer, the dog pound and port authority — the public body in charge of overseeing the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and broader economic development activities in Mahoning and Trumbull counties — may look like odd bedfellows. To an extent, they are as their paths rarely cross.

But on closer inspection, both agencies share a common goal — working to promote and improve the quality of life in the Mahoning Valley. That’s why the creative thinking and close-knit teamwork of the two disparate agencies merit community praise. Their partnership serves as a stellar model of intergovernmental cooperation to promote the common good.


Earlier this month, the port authority submitted the winning bid of $250,000 at a sheriff’s sale for a foreclosed but relatively new and sturdy 8,540-square-foot structure that will more than double the size of the county’s dog pound on Industrial Road on the city’s West Side.

The pound and the WRPA have formalized an agreement whereby the authority will purchase and then lease the former Jump Stretch Fitness Centre and its surrounding 6 acres of property to Mahoning County to replace the aging and increasingly cramped dog-pound. The affordable lease payments from Dog Warden Dianne Fry’s office also means that this monumental benefit will not come back to bite county taxpayers. That’s because operations of the dog warden are fully funded by dog-license and pound fees.

The bounty of benefits, however, transcend fiscal responsibility. For one, the much larger facility will enable better care and more spacious quarters for the growing population of stray and abandoned dogs. We hope it also holds promise that fewer dogs will have to be turned away, more dogs will be adopted and fewer will be put to death.

The property also bodes well for the happiness of the pound’s populace. The much larger acreage will provide volunteers a much larger swath of land to exercise, play with and walk the bevy of breeds the pound houses.

In addition, the Meridian Road site befits the truism that location is everything. Fry said the building’s quick accessibility to Interstates 80 and 680 works in its favor. “We can be anywhere in the county much quicker,” she said.

With so much going for it, we hope the conversion from a fitness center to a dog pound can happen as rapidly as possible. Toward that end, Sarah Lown, senior economic development manager for WRPA, said the authority already has people willing to donate time and money to help with the conversion.

In the spirit of Easter, we urge other dog lovers throughout the Valley to pitch in time, money or service to this worthwhile project that will give our thousands of canine friends a stronger fighting chance for a new and joyful life.

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