Animal advocates upset over treatment of strays

In an 8/26/11 response to public records requests, the warden of Cuyahoga County Shelter, Lesley DeSouza, reported: "There have been a total of five dogs brought in to the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter from Bay Village since July 14th. Two were transferred to another agency for adoption from their agency, one was adopted from our Shelter, one is still at our Shelter available for adoption, and one was retrieved by the owner."

The other agency, according to DeSouza’s report, was the Geauga County Pound.

These facts contradict Mayor Sutherland’s "Stray Dog Report" as appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of the Observer in which she stated four dogs had been sent to the Cuyahoga County Shelter, three were adopted out "to loving homes," and one was "happily" reunited with her family.

This last dog, Bella, was in the county shelter for one night and immediately was stricken with Bortadella (aka "kennel cough") despite being current on her vaccinations. Bella, a tiny Westie who had just had a bath and whose collar was off (with ID tag) for this reason, was inadvertently let out of the house by one of the owner's children, wandered, and was missing for only a few hours before being scooped up and taken to the county pound which was closed when contacted by Bella's owners the day of the incident.

Retrieved the next morning, Bella is doing well after becoming extremely ill and having been placed on antibiotics by her vet for an extended period.

The county kennel has a euthanasia rate of nearly 40%; for every animal taken in by the county and adopted out, others are killed in their place.

In a separate public records request, the Bay Village Police Dept. responded with a 29-page list dated 7/20-8/29 that contained all animal related calls, some 102 total. Of these, 52 individual dogs, 10 cats and 6 miscellaneous animals-at-large/strays were reported. Also filed were 13 various animal complaints and 12 injured or dead animals reports.

Equally telling was the report made on 8/1/11 by an officer who had just been to the Bay Village kennel and stated that there was “an accumulation of feces in the dogs runs and it appears the place has not been cleaned since the ACO left."

It is now a temporary "way-station" while waiting for the county to pick up any strays at the direction of the mayor and council.

What became of the other reported strays? Some came home of their own accord, some were returned to their owners by caring BV neighbors and some have not been recovered.

The city has increased its risk of a lawsuit for negligence for lack of proper animal control should a serious dog mauling incident occur. One such case happened recently in Washington state, where Pierce County was found partly to blame for a dog attack because officials took no action after numerous complaints about the animal.

These facts should satisfy anyone who had doubts of a need for an ACO and a new Bay Village Kennel, which was in the process of being provided at no charge to the city by private donors prior to the sudden decision by the mayor and council to eliminate the ACO position, after having just said in a June 7 meeting that "outsourcing [of Bay animals] was off the table." (listen to the meeting at

The failure of the mayor and council to accept that accidents do indeed happen, that electric containment fences fail, tethers break, kids open doors and pets escape, is clear. We suggest people remember this at election time.

- Doc Wheeler, Bay Village
Friends of the Bay Village Kennel

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Volume 3, Issue 18, Posted 4:09 PM, 09.07.2011