The truth about Lucas County, OH Dog Warden Tom "Dog Killer" Skeldon is this: He does not care about you. He does not care about dogs. He cares about himself.
That's the truth.
I went through the archives of the Toledo Blade who finally has started blasting Skeldon for his ineptitude and dog murdering ways. The archives go back to 1996, which means there's still nearly ten years of Skeldon we're missing out on. There were about 260 articles mentioning Skeldon. A normal person would not be impressed.
Tom "Dog Killer" Skeldon through the years
1987: Skeldon named dog warden after his uncle, a former county commissionter, rec'd him for the job.
1993: 50 pit bulls confiscated and killed by Skeldon.
1994: 70 pit bulls confiscated and killed by Skeldon.
1995: 144 pit bulls confiscated and killed by Skeldon.
1996: Skeldon and company pick up and kill more than 200 dogs who look like pit bulls. Claims there is a serious gang problem.
1997: 276 pit bulls confiscated and killed by Skeldon. Violent gang activity has decreased while dogfighting has increased. 5,520 dogs are taken in by the dog warden. Approximately 80% were killed**. Pit bull type dogs make up 5% of the shelter population.
August - Skeldon finds two confiscated pit bulls who have been devocalized. Decides de-barking pit bulls should be felonious, proposes his idea to the legislature - the penalty for having a de-barked pit bull? A 4th degree felony. Classic Skeldon quote: "`I've said it again and again, but it will happen. These things will kill somebody here one day"*
December - 359 pit bull type dogs confiscated and killed, 6.5% shelter pop. Nearly 6,000 dogs taken in, approximately 80% killed.**
January: Dog fighting is on the rise in Lucas County, as it has been since 1995 when pit bull confiscations increased dramatically. Tom "Dog Killer" Skeldon, champion of public safety and protector of dogs, has been unable to stem the incoming tide of pit bull type dogs or reduce dogfighting. Oh wait, he did introduce a law to ban devocalized pit bulls. The dog fighters are quaking in their boots.
December: Pit Bulls are third in confiscated dogs with Rottweilers and Chow Chows the number 1 and 2 breeds most confiscated and killed by Skeldon and company. About 375 pit bulls confiscated and killed, 7.8% of shelter pop. Approximately 4,800 intake of whom approximately 3,700 were killed.
2000: Dog bites have tripled since the previous year. Classic Skeldon quote: "I'm so busy running around putting out these fires, that I haven't had a lot of time to consider it ." "It" referring to the dramatic increase in dog bites. Meanwhile, Governor Taft signs into law the de-barking bill which bans the devocalization of vicious dogs (all pit bulls) and the penalty is a 4th degree felony. You would face a less harsh penalty if you were a spectator at a dog fight. About 500 pit bulls confiscated and killed, 9.6% dog shelter pop.
2001: For the first time in Lucas County dog warden history, the Lucas County Board of Commissioners voted to require Lucas County to send adoptable dogs to the Toledo Humane Society. In six weeks, 77 dogs were sent to the humane society. About 500 pit bulls confiscated and killed, 10% of shelter population.
2002: A judge agrees with Skeldon and co. that a Presa Canario had enough physical characteristics to be classified as a "pit bull" and the dog is killed. Meanwhile, 553 pit bull type dogs have been confiscated and killed, 13% of dog shelter pop. Approximately 4,200 animals have come into the shelter. More than 70% won't make it out alive. Even though the shelter has a high kill rate, Lucas County dog warden Tom "Dog Killer" Skeldon refuses to join other cities in purchasing a microchip scanner and scanning every incoming dog.
2003: More than 600 pit bull type dogs confiscated and killed, 15% of dog shelter population. Approximately 4,000 incoming dogs of whom approximately 3,100 are killed.**
2004: 857 pit bull type dogs confiscated and killed, 21% of dog shelter population. Approximately 4,000 incoming dogs of whom approximately 3,100 are killed.**
2005: 900 pit bull type dogs confiscated and killed, 24% of dog shelter population. Approximately 3,600 incoming dogs, of whom approximately 2,700 are killed.**
2006: Skeldon is asked to testify in Ontario in support of a province-wide ban on pit bull type dogs. Even though the intake rate of pit bulls has dramatically increased and dog bites have not decreased, Skeldon is considered an expert on pit bulls (who he admits one cannot easily recognize, page 11) and breed specific legislation. 950 pit bulls seized and killed, 26.7% of dog shelter population. 3,500 incoming dogs, of whom approximately 2,800 were killed (including the 950 pit bull type dogs).
2007: Skeldon starts going door to door and rounding up dogs who resemble pit bulls. Board of Commissioners asks that Skeldon start scanning incoming dogs for microchips, something Skeldon has not done and has been resistant to.
Pit bulls comprise 34% of the dog shelter population with 1,354 killed. Another 1,210 dogs killed. 400 adopted. Total incoming of 3248 dogs. That's a 13% adoption rate and 78% kill rate.
327 people bitten by dogs.
2008: Classic Skeldon quote: "A lot of rescue groups ... don't have a long record of standing,. They almost tend to be cults of personality around a few activists"
Skeldon claims he will increase adoptions by 10% in one whole year. Also claims he's reduced kill rates by 11% in 30 years! Pit bulls comprise 33% of the shelter population and a large percentage of dead dogs. A total of 2,483 dogs were killed, making for a 77% kill rate. 78 were puppies under the age of 3-mos.
403 people bitten by dogs, an increase from the previous year.
While Skeldon claims he will increase adoption rates, he helps kill a bill that would overhaul the current Ohio dog warden system. It would have encouraged a name change from "dog warden" to "animal control officer" and required the wardens to keep animals two-weeks before killing them and it would have required scanning all incoming dogs. It received a massive pushback from breeder groups who balked at the increase in kennel registration fees. It failed.
Classic Skeldon Quote: "We are a success story. We are to be emulated." Skeldon fails to increase adoption rates by 10% - they remain at 10-12% of total incoming dogs.
As part of their rec'd, the newly formed Dog Warden Advisory Committee suggests Lucas County photograph every dog and place them up on the internet to facilitate owner-recovery and adoption. This is the first time ever that Lucas County has used petfinder or the internet to promote adoption. Currently, they only have six dogs up on their website. In addition, the committee suggested an immediate halt on the killing of puppies as well as the vaccination of incoming animals. The Toledo Blade publishes several scathing articles demanding the firing of Skeldon. One Board of Commissioner member tries to oust Skeldon but his defeated when Skeldon's first cousin and the remaining commissioner votes against the proposal. In addition, the Blade is publishing a daily log of the dogs killed and adopted at the shelter. Nov 13 - 17 dogs killed, including a pit bull with "pink toe-nail polish" and a 3-yr-old Pomeranian mix who is good with kids and likes to ride in cars. 6 dogs were adopted. Nov 14: 16 dogs killed, including a 6-mos old Rottweiler who's owner couldn't afford him and Lab mix who is good with kids. Four dogs were adopted.
So here we have a man who admits he doesn't know what a pit bull really is or how to identify one accurately. We have a man who has claimed to have the interest of public safety at heart, yet on his watch, dog bites have increased. This is a person who has a personal vendetta against dogs who look a certain way and admits behavior is not important when deciding whether to kill a dog or not. This man has testified in cases where the fate of thousands of dogs hang in the balance.
This is a man who has balked at the idea of scanning incoming dogs with microchips and who has refused to post pictures of incoming dogs on petfinder or the county's website.
This is a man who has been unable to significantly reduce the kill rate of his shelter while almost every single other nearby warden has.
This is not a man who should be protecting our safety or that of our dogs.
Are you tired of this?
Contact the Board of Commissioners:
One Government Center
Toledo, OH 43604
Ph: (419) 213-4500
Fx: (419) 213-4532
Pete Gerken, President
Tina Skeldon Wozniak, Commissioner
Ben Konop, Commissioner
Thank Commissioner Konop for trying to oust Skeldon. If he is up for re-election, re-elect him. Do not do the same for Skeldon Wozniak and Gerken, both of whom have shown little interest in truly rectifying the horror at the Lucas County dog warden facility.
If you live in Lucas County or Toledo, find out who your representatives are in the state legislature and contact them, tell them that things must change.
And, keep sending letters to the Toledo Blade:
Send a letter to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. With rare exceptions, e-mails (plain text, no attachment) must not exceed 300 words. Contributors are limited to one published letter a month. Preference is given to short, succinctly expressed e-mails. The Forum reserves the right to edit for accuracy, brevity, or clarity. Failure to supply a full home address and daytime telephone number will slow our verification process and delay publication.
*For certain, no pit bull type dog has killed someone in Lucas County in more than 30 years, possibly longer. And even if one did, that would not make a valid, rational argument in favor of Tom "Dog Killer" Skeldon's archaic perspective on animals.
**This is assuming a 77% kill rate. Lucas County has only reduced the kill rate 11% in 30 years, which would translate into a 0.33% reduction over each year during the 30 year period. Since Lucas County dog warden makes the most minimal of efforts in reuniting dogs with their owners, I have included relinquished dogs in the total number of dogs. If, in 2008, Lucas County killed 77% of incoming dogs, in 1998, they would have killed approximately 80%. These numbers are gross approximations and, if more accurate statistics are available, please provide them (I had to do the math, which I admittedly spent little time verifying).