Deadline Now: Animal Welfare Issues
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Deadline Now: Animal Welfare Issues

Friday, December 28, 2012

Everyone has heard the cliché that the dog is man’s best friend. Well, if that’s so, we don’t always treat our friends very well.

Each year, millions of dogs are abused. But the good news is that there is growing awareness of the problem in Lucas County, where the kill rate is in fact going down. But could things be better?

This week's program welcomes Debbie Johnson, a veterinarian who is the Operations Director of the Toledo Area Humane Society; Julie Lyle, the Lucas County Dog Warden, Tanya Irwin, a reporter for the Toledo Blade whose beat focuses on animal welfare issues, and Cutie, a chihuahua with a unique story.

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

I have an Australian shepherd named Ashley, who was named after a long-time cartoonist for the Toledo Blade. Ashley has the run of our home, a fenced-in back yard, and other dogs to play with.

The only abuse he has ever known has to do with what he’s done to some of our shoes and the shrubbery. He is very much a family member, and he knows it. What he doesn’t know is that there are millions of dogs out there who aren’t nearly as lucky.

The Lucas County Dog Warden and the Toledo Area Humane Society are devoted to trying to help those dogs, thousands of whom come through their doors, many in bad shape. Some of them, like Cutie, manage to win the lottery of life.  Many don’t do as well.

And tragically, close to half the dogs picked up by the Lucas County Dog Warden end up having to die. That’s a grim statistic, but a vast improvement on just a few years ago, when the number of dogs killed was more like three out of four.

I witnessed a lot of grim third world scenes when I was a reporter, and I have a pretty thick skin. But I don’t think I would have the emotional ability to do what Cindy Lyle and Dr. Debbie Johnson do every day. I am not somebody who believes that all dogs can or should be saved. Some of the animals who come through their doors have physical and psychological problems too severe to fix.

But we can probably do better than we are doing. That doesn’t mean you ought to go get the kids a Christmas puppy on a whim. That can be a disaster. But if having a dog makes sense for your family, and you plan ahead of time, then you just might be doing the best thing for not only some lovable dog but yourself.

I met a woman the other day who had done that, and who had a bumper sticker that said, simply, “who saved who?”
What you can do, however, is discourage anyone from breeding dogs just for the fun of it, and make sure you spay or neuter any pet you have. You will both be better off, and accumulate some good karma besides.