Commissioners hear complaints about county dog pound

By Sean Barron


Angie Bucher vividly recalled that after getting Oliver, the sweet-natured, obedient German shepherd mix was suffering from heartworm, was filthy and had clumps of matted hair.

Even worse, the New Middletown woman said, the dog was hours from being euthanized at the Mahoning County dog shelter before being taken to a foster home near Cleveland – even though it had an easily treatable medical condition.

Bucher, who has volunteered at the facility as a transporter, was among several animal-rights activists who shared their concerns about the 14,000-square-foot shelter with county commissioners during their meeting Thursday.

The dog came to the 8-month-old facility on North Meridian Road about eight months ago and was in quarantine, yet received no treatment for heartworm, another activist complained.

Other primary problems are a staff shortage and dogs spending too much time in cages with little stimulation, another woman said.

Even though those are among the problems some of the activists say need to be addressed, progress toward tackling other major issues at the facility has been made, said Jason Cooke of Brookfield, another activist.

Cooke met for about an hour Wednesday at the shelter with Commissioner Anthony T. Traficanti and dog warden Dianne Fry to discuss issues that included a staff shortage and more dogs being euthanized than necessary.

The longtime activist also said it “breaks my heart” to speak out against the facility, but that he’s trying to do what he feels is in the animals’ best interests.

The shelter has between 50 and 60 dogs on the intake floor and 24 to 35 in the adoption area, Cooke said.

During Thursday’s meeting, Cooke laid out a “Do Your Part and Save a Heart” campaign aimed at finding a greater number of foster families for dogs at the shelter with heartworm.

Those fostering such animals would be given food, treatment for the disease and other essentials. Their core responsibilities would be providing a loving home and taking the dogs to their veterinary appointments, Cooke noted.

“We really want to save those with heartworm and additional dogs,” said Diane Less, founder of Angels for Animals Inc. in Canfield. “We want to save every animal we can.”

Less, who’s collaborating with Cooke on the campaign, added one of her main goals is to get the public “more proactive in adopting dogs.”

Nevertheless, some problems that still need to be addressed are establishing greater transparency in the intake area and gathering better information regarding who makes the decisions to euthanize dogs, Cooke said.

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