It is said that "dog is man's best friend." However, can it be said that "man is a dog's best friend?"
Apparently not in Stark County. Unless "man" is defined to be the Stark County citizens who serve as volunteers at the Pound.
For years now, there have been problems reported to the Stark County commissioners about the operations of the Stark County Dog Pound (SCDP - "Pound"). But it appears that very little, if anything, has gotten better for dogs who have found their way to the SCDP. Or, for that matter the selfless volunteers who expend many, many unpaid hours providing the unmet needs of Stark County's strays.
On January 27, 2010 (nearly one year ago), Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) fired Evert Gibson as dog warden because of unresolved problems. Gibson had been on the job for several years.
After some controversy between the commissioners and members of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB) over the appearance of an non-SCDPAB recommended person as one of five finalists, the current warden Reagan Tetreault (on the list) was appointed (May 5, 2010) with a starting date of May 24, 2010 subject however to a 120 probationary period.
September 24th (the end of the probationary period) came and went with nary a word from commissioners that Tetreault was experiencing any difficulties getting a handle on Pound problems. In fact, the SCPR specifically asked the commissioners that question and was told that all was going well.
It wasn't 30 days before big time problems surfaced about operations at the SCDP. October 13, 2010 was a particularly bad day for the Pound.
One involved a dog who had been at the Pound well less than a required minimum of 72 hours (by Ohio law) and whose owner had contacted the Pound to claim the family pet was inadvertently euthanized. A second incident involved a properly restrained dog that was mauled by a neighbor's dog notwithstanding the fact that the owners of the mauled dog had brought to the attention of Pound officials allegations of violations of law on the part of neighbor in the maintenance and control of his dog.
An excerpt from a Repository report of November 2, 2010:
These two incidents set off a firestorm of protests by the dog owners, members of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board and Pound volunteers as to the quality of management that was being administered at the Pound.
The SCPR began hearing that members of the Stark County public and volunteers working at the Pound were not being treated respectfully by Pound employees. And these allegations were being made to commissioners at their regular meetings.
These allegations found their way into action by Warden Tetreault and the SCPR wrote on December 13th that it may be that Tetreault was getting a grip of matters at the SCDP.
In a follow up with Tetreault (see The Report's take on her delayed response below), she tells the action she meted out was a three-day suspension of Pound employee Vince Williams to be served December 29th, January 19th and February 16th.
It appears to The Report that Tetreault "getting a grip" may have been wishful thinking by yours truly.
Since the 13th, The Report has had occasion to contact Warden two times for information about Pound operations and both time came away feeling that Treteault was - to put it euphemistically - less than enthusiastic about dealing with the SCPR. On the second occasion, The Report made a telephone call (early in the day, then a late afternoon follow up) for certain information on Monday and only after intervention by county Chief Administrator Mike Hanke did yours truly get a Tetreault response two days later.
So this got The Report to thinking, what are others' take on how Tetreault is doing? Accordingly, The Report contacted a member of the SCDPAB and obtained these responses:
Response #1 (December 16th - before the SCDPAB meeting)
Response #2 (December 16th - after the SCDPAB meeting)We have an Advisory Board meeting tonight, but I doubt if we will make much progress b/c Reagan (warden) has said she will not be attending. It would be helpful if she could answer some of our questions. Also she has postponed sharing the volunteer handbook she has written until after the first of the year,, saying that the commissioners need to approve it . In my opinion, it would be a good idea if she communicated with the volunteers and the . ... .I personally have not been to the pound since Vince's disciplinary action: however in talking with other volunteers, I have not heard that anything has changed for the better regarding the employees' relationship with the volunteers and/or the public.Also we are asking commissioner Ferguson to respond to a recording we have of him speaking at an Advisory Board meeting ( believe it was in July) where he states he is extremely upset by a video he had seen of dog abuse at the pound. If you recall, he denied seeing a video - when you asked him about this after a recent commissioners' meeting.
Warden Regean did not show up at the meeting; the Board discussed how we can not move forward until we have communication with the warden. Topics such as ; poor ventilation at the pound, the volunteer manual she is completing, reporting abuse of the dogs , answering volunteers' questions about feeding, procedures, etc. need to be adresseed so as to stem rumors and suspicision.The SCPR is reassessing whether or not matters have improved at the Pound and so should the Stark County Board of Commissioners.
the Board agreed we would wait until the new year to approach the commissioners about the need for communcation between the warden and volunteers and the Advisor Board, and also if Dr. Ferguson has not yet reponded to his comment that he had not seen a video of dog abuse, when he is recorded on audio at a July Advisory Bord meeting stating how upset he was after seeing abuse to pound dogs on a video .
Commissioner Pete Ferguson needs to meet with the SCDP Advisory Board (whose members are appointed by the commissioners) and clear up once and for all whether or not he has seen dog abuse on video captured on cameras in place at the Pound.
Beyond Ferguson acting, the entire board (which will have in a few days Janet Creighton and, of course, the recently recently in Tom Bernabei) needs to take a fresh look at operations at the Pound and make a determination as to whether or not Reagan Tetreault is making satisfactory progress in "getting a grip" on the long time problems at the Pound.
While the SCPR understands better than most that the commissioners are in the throes of dealing with severe county budgetary problems, the chronic difficulties at the SCDP also require their urgent attention.
The Report urges Ferguson to meet with the SCDPAB at its January meeting and thinks it would be a good ides for the "new" board to assess Tetreault's progress or lack of progress and report back to the Stark County Public at a regular commissioners' meeting not later than the end of January, 2011.