Ben Konop's statement on Lucas County Dog Warden's reserve fund

Statement by Commissioner Konop on Dog Warden Reserve Fund:

Yesterday I issued a formal directive to Dog Warden Julie Lyle to, in conjunction with the Dog Warden Advisory Committee, develop and implement a number of immediate steps that will lower euthanasia rates, increase public safety, and give the community, and dog owners in particular, the value they deserve from Lucas County government.

Those steps include the implementation of an adoption outreach program and the hiring of an adoption coordinator, modifying the physical structure of the dog warden department, purchasing new cages, building a vet suite on premises, increasing hours that the department is open to the public, and purchasing software to improve tracking of the animals.

Despite repeated declarations by County Administrator Peter Ujvagi and my colleagues on the board that there are not sufficient resources to implement these measures, the fact is that the Dog Warden reserve fund has swelled to nearly $900,000 this year (the total budget for the department is only 1.6 million).  The fact that the reserve fund of the department has grown to nearly sixty percent of the operating budget is illogical.

While dogs are dying because of lack of space, lack of medical care, and a lack of a comprehensive adoption outreach program, the department's reserve fund has quadrupled since 2007, apparently due in large part to the license fee increase strenuously advocated for by previous Dog Warden Tom Skeldon. This swelling surplus in conjunction with the continuing rate of euthanasia is an unconscionable misuse of taxpayer revenue and a prime example of how county government is broken.

Dog owners who support the department by paying their license fees (the highest in the state) deserve a top notch organization, not a department that hordes taxpayer dollars while, for example, killing 183 apparently healthy and "non-pit bull" puppies from January, 2007, through December of 2009.  The community as a whole deserves a department that adequately and intelligently addresses public safety and is humane towards animals.  It is my hope that Ms. Lyle, who in a short time has done much to improve the performance and adoption rate at the dog warden, will immediately focus on utilizing these resources to ultimately raise the live release rate to 80 percent.  If there are excess funds available after implementing such steps, then we owe it to the taxpayers to reevaluate the license fee in light of budget realities.