Saturday, March 20, 2010


One of the ways local government officials get the trust of the everyday citizen is to include them in the process of governing.

On Thursday last, the SCPR attended a meeting of a group of the Stark County commissioner appointed dog pound advisory group headed up by Mount Union University communications professor Len Cooper.

These folks are embarked on a very important task.

They had before them 127 applications for dog warden.  The position became vacant when commissioners relieved Evert Gibson (warden since 2004) of the job.  (By the way, - ATTENTION:  STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER WEBMASTER - Gibson is still listed as warden on the Dog Pound page of the Stark County commissioners website)  

Most people have dogs, dearly love them.  And it was clear to the SCPR that the six (of seven - there is one vacancy) member advisory group members love dogs, and are out to make sure that the new dog warden is top-notch.

But the SCPR's question is:  how much input will they have?

The Report picked up at the meeting that the advisers themselves have concerns.  A part of the Thursday discussion was a concern that once the group completes its task of winnowing the 127 applications down to 5 to 10, that they will be told "thank you" we [the commissioners and the commissioners alone] will make the final choice.

And, make the final decision, they should.  However, shouldn't an adviser be included in the final set of interviews (of the finalists)?  The advisory groups wants interim dog warden Fox to be part of the finalists interviews, too.

If the commissioners are smart, they will include an adviser and Fox.  Such will be a step in the right direction in making a quality decision as to whom to hire, and it will be a signal to everyday Stark Countians that the commissioners want citizen input.

The list of invitees stands at eleven.  Interviews begin today, will carryover to Monday and conclude on Thursday next with a teleconference interview with out-of-stater applicants and locals who, for one reason or another, cannot make an in person session.

What criteria have been set up as priorities for candidates?

First, some non-standard factors:

  • someone who is computer savvy.  The SCPR was surprised to learn that the Dog Pound is not using the Pound's computer system effectively.
  • someone who will not fall into "a good ole boys network."
  • someone who understands law enforcement considerations and will work closely with Stark County policing authorities.  One member complained that Stark's policing agencies did not have a quality relationship with former warden Gibson and said that his top priority was to have a new warden who would connect and coordinate the Pound's work with area law enforcement.
Next, the more standard factors: (taken from the goals of the Dog Pound as articulated on the Dog Pound page of the Stark County commissioners website:

  • "To enforce the rules and regulations relating to dogs in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code.
  • "To provide our customers (both internal and external) the best quality service." 
  • "To operate the department using sound business practices." 
  • "To patrol the county, respond to calls, and capture stray puppies and dogs using the best available methods." 
  • "To assist the general public with the redemption of lost puppies and dogs." 
  • "To work with the general public and rescue organizations in the placement of adoptable puppies and dogs." 
"To educate the general public in the areas of responsible pet ownership, spaying/neutering, and bite avoidance."  Interim warden Kevin Fox was at the meeting and he presented the Pound's February statistics.

Here they are with SCPR commentary:

  • 103 strays picked up.  Fox says this is a high number for February and attributed the increase to the downturn in the economy.
  • 1 surrender.
  • 13 requested destructions.  Surrender and requested destructions could entail up to $74 in fees ($50 Pound imposed fee plus $12 licensing charge - if unlicensed plus a $12 late licensing fee)
  • 5 quarantines.
  • 16 redeems by owner.
  • 58 adoptions
  • 3 transfers to the Stark County Humane Society
  • 30 euthanized (22 of them pit bulls)
Now for what the commissioners have in mind, presupposing, of course, that Commissioner Todd Bosley speaks for the entire board of commissioner:

Here is a video of a press conference that occurred immediately after the commissioners had relieved Evert Gibson of his dog warden responsibilities.

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