Mar 2, 2009

On Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon

Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon

Calls for the resignation of Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon increased last week after news of the killing by a deputy warden of an unlicensed Pomeranian mix named Princess via tranquilizer dart. Joining in with the chorus was the Toledo Blade, which published an editorial demanding "a change at the top" of the Lucas County dog warden's office.

Personally, I bear no animosity toward Tom Skeldon, and the one time I briefly met him he seemed pleasant enough. OK, I did refer to him as "Herr Skeldon" over at a local bulletin board, which was a bit over the top, but I do not see Skeldon as the problem.

He's just the face of the problem, which is that the dog warden's office operates with little oversight and accountability. As I mentioned on another related post at Glass City Jungle, I could care less if Skeldon remained dog warden for life, so long as his department had greater accountability and that he took into consideration the public will.

For starters, Skeldon's policy of euthanizing all dogs he deems as "vicious breeds" clearly must be scrapped. I have known dogs belonging to "vicious" breeds that were as gentle as sedated lambs, while I have encountered snarling, biting dogs from supposedly friendly breeds. The solution? Skeldon's people should perform aggression assessments on all dogs that come into the system, and only those dogs with obvious aggressiveness (and thus those that cannot be adopted out) should be euthanized.

In addition, Tom Skeldon's stubborn refusal to allow rescue groups to facilitate the adoption process is foolish. Most of the county dog wardens in Northwest Ohio allow volunteer groups like Planned Pethood, Maumee Valley Save-A-Pet and the Toledo Animal Shelter to assume responsibility for the many thousands of dogs and cats who wind up at county animal shelters. Unfortunately, the Lucas County Dog Warden will only work with the Humane Society, and thousands of adoptable dogs get euthanized every year in Lucas County because of this shortsighted policy.

So Mr. Skeldon? Most of us in the area have no real interest in seeing you join the ranks of the unemployed, but quite a few folks demand sensible changes in your policies. Either join the 21st century with reasonable policy modifications, or face ever more insistent calls for your immediate termination.

(Disclaimer and full disclosure: historymike writes in his own capacity as an area citizen, and not as a spokesperson for any animal rescue groups with which he is affiliated)


Anonymous said...

I would've stuck with "Herr Skeldon," Mikey. He's gotta go.

Mad Jack said...

Ah, the voice of reason and sanity.

No, I don't think Herr Skeldon is over the top. I don't think that Baby Doc Skeldon is over the top either.

Intellectually I agree with your assessment of the situation and the changes needed. Local government has grown ever more high handed and arrogant over the years. We're beginning to notice the trend and a few people are starting to awaken from their apathetic torpor. Maybe the next election will bring about some change.

historymike said...


Nah, I'll refrain from any more Nazi comparisons. I just want the guy to be accountable for the actions of his personnel and the policies of his department.

historymike said...

Agreed that Skeldon and his department are symptoms of ever-more unresponsive local and county governments, MadJack.

Anonymous said...

When a dog license costs $25, and if you don't get it in time - $50, something is wrong. Not sure if Skeldon sets the rates, but it was annoying to here Skeldon was going door to door to see if everyone had their dog licenses (re-insert Nazi ref. here).

His refusal to work with other animal shelters is beyond reason. And only in NW Ohio could the dog warden generate so much news. We have Konop taking "courageous" stands on the issue, the Blade writing "brave" editorials calling for his resignation.

I would suggest that we should have a cat warden too becuase of all the vicious stray cats that dig in my garbage and spray around my house, but the genius that would get the position would probably get the great idea to sell any cat not claimed within 48 hours to the science labs for high school dissecting.


Anonymous said...

*hear not here

my bad, Tom

Hooda Thunkit said...


I have to agree with your overall assessment of Mr. Skeldon.

Perhaps his new team of overseers can have some positive impact and improve the operations, especially when it comes to evaluating so-called vicious animals and working with alternative adoption agencies in a more positive way.

Anonymous said...

I wish the warden would "accidentally" get rid of the pit bull in our cul-du-sac! He was here earlier today to get it (Sierra Court), but couldn't "find" it!

Anonymous said...

I'd rather see the people that train dogs to kill be euthanized.

Anonymous said...

In 1997, I nearly ran over a chow puppy on Woodville Road, stopped, and went door to door to see who would claim it. It was the sweetest little thing. It was a pure breed, with blue tongue and beautiful orange mane. The woman who owned it didn't want it and let it loose. Very sad. I asked a neighbor to keep it for me until the following morning because I was late for work. He agreed to keep it, but when I came to pick the puppy up, he said he called the dog warden just a couple hours before. The deputy begged the guy to keep it because he explained that it would be put down. For some reason, the guy, who was a theater major at UT, handed it to the warden anyway. I was pretty mad because he said that the puppy was very quiet during the night and never went to the bathroom in the house. I called the dog warden to see if I could get it, and a woman there said no because it would be euthanized. I was shocked. I said the puppy didn't do anything wrong, didn't bite anyone, and was very playful. She said it would eventually bite someone, and said it would eventually maul my dog at home. I felt so bad. I was on the phone for about a half hour and just gave up because she said it was the warden's policy to put certain breeds down, including chows. I always felt guilty that I didn't take it home with me right away instead of handing it over to a stranger. The puppy was a real doll. This happened over 10 years ago, and I still remember what a cutie it was and how unfair something that didn't even do anything wrong was killed. I even had a home for it. That policy needs to be changed!

Anonymous said...

i think the pitbull laws are stupid and should be changed. it all depends on how you raise the dog

Nana said...

I wish all of you knit-wits would grab the reins and think. The dog warden isn't out to get "Fluffy" on your lap, he is an official whose duty it is to PROTECT citizens against potentially vicious dogs that run wild. Like it or not, believe it or not, there are many breeds who are quite capable of killing and/or seriously injuring people ... and do. For crying out loud. Stupidity gives me a headache!!


Candi163 said...

Ding Dong the witch is DEAD!!

pcollins said...

Be responsible, spay/neuter, understand dog behaviour (they are not little people in fur coats), learn about the critical learning stages of puppies and the importance of proper socialization techniques during these stages, take classes to train your dog (even if you think you can do it yourself because you watched your father ptty train your pup by smearing it's nose in it's own urine!).

Know your breed. Dog breeds were created by humans artificially selecting for certain behavioral traits. Know what behaviors your breed was intended to perform. Know what triggers those behaviors in your dog. Know how to manage those behavors, especially if they may put a child or the dog himself in danger!

Unfortunately, the average dog owner really does not fully understand these concepts.

I understand that at times Tom Skeldon is not the most charismatic individual. His job is to protect the public, bottom line. I find it ironic that in such a poor economy, with animal shelters overflowing with unwanted pets, that the issue of the dog warden's practices are drawing more attention that the issues the shelters face caring for so many unwanted pets.