Defending The Animal Shelter And John Luzio

I made a few posts on The Advocate recently. Posting there usually leads to a dead end, but when I see something worth posting on, I’ll give my 2 cents. The pro-get-rid-of-John Luzio crowd has decided that anyone that will not join in their attacks on the Licking County Commissioners and John Luzio is an evil animal-hating heathen, so now I’ll defend my position on the Licking County Animal Shelter.

To set the record straight, I’m not John Luzio. I am Mark Spearman. I’ve only met Mr. Luzio once and I can’t even remember what was said to him. I’m sure he has no clue who I am unless he remembers a pizza delivery from 15 years ago. Doubtful. Also, I have no involvement in Licking County politics. I’ve simply lived here for many years and vote regularly. I happen to love dogs. I’m not employed by any government agency or any group that is contracted to work for a government agency. I’ve got 2 great dogs that I rescued from the dog pound.Not a saintly PETA member, but a dog lover who feels it’s best to rescue rather than pay for pets from puppy mills. I’m cheap too, so why pay for a dog when great ones are available for next to nothing?

Why then would I take a few minutes and defend this man that is claimed to be so dreadful? My first reason is that I know political blogging and persuasion when I see it and that is the main drive of the anti-shelter folks. They’re trying to use the shelter as a means to get a Commissioner elected. They’re doing it under the guise of “loving the animals”. Some of those joining in think that they are helping the animals, but all one needs to do is look at the political references in every post on The Advocate. “Get rid of the gas chamber!”, is their only proposed solution.

John Luzio has served Licking County for many years and I respect that type of dedication to a thankless and difficult job. His methods have changed over time and he’s rolled with the changes. Now they want to remove the gas chamber and I don’t see him putting up a fight over it. They offer no alternatives for dogs that are vicious and risk harming employees during the injection. He’s explained why and when it’s used, but that’s not good enough. Nothing is good enough for this crowd just keep saying, “Retire Luzio”, over and over.

They’ve tried to fabricate a bunch of loose evidence. They acquired a choppy video under the Sunshine law and before the video could be explained, they attacked Luzio. It turned out that there was an explanation for everything they were seeing. They tried to say that a volunteer form was outrageous when it was nearly a direct copy that every shelter in the country uses to protect everyone involved. The list goes on and on.

This is nothing new and I’m finding the trend of attacking dog wardens to be popular in Ohio and other states. Here’s an article about the trend of firing dog wardens in Ohio. No matter what they do, they’re used as pawns in politics to remove Commissioners. They tug at the heart strings of animal lovers and try to make the dog warden the evil person in the animal control problem. These attacks get very trendy at election time. The end result is a revolving door of inexperienced dog wardens that make the animal control problem even more difficult.

The anti-shelter group tries to claim that The Licking County Animal Shelter is trying to hide from the public by blocking them from photographing every detail of the shelter at any time. Can anyone name a functional government facility that doesn’t have some restricted access section to it? The do have to kill animals here and it’s not something that you want to show photos of. Imagine someone’s pet making the newspaper and the family’s children seeing it. Imagine criminals seeing some chemicals that they may want and having exact details of where they are located. There are many reasons to not allow full public access to every inch of the facility, but this is translated into John Luzio being a secretive evil agent of some sort of animal killing conspiracy.

I suppose it’s easy to pick on the guy that kills dogs, but the truth of the matter is he’s cleaning up society’s mess. They don’t take care of their animals and he’s forced to control the problem. The alternative is stray and possibly dangerous animals at large. I appreciate someone who will take on a job like this and the heartache that goes with it. I know for sure that I couldn’t do it. I know that none of the anti-shelter folks could or would do it.

This isn’t to say that I’m not for everything that would truly bring about positive change to the shelter. Who would not want better treatment for the animals? I think that pummeling an official that is currently doing the job on accusations of very little or no merit is a sure way to get a poor replacement. The only person that is going to take his place is going to be a person who is desperate for a job, has a plan for squelching any opposition like Luzio is facing, and is certain that his political ties are strong enough to beat any similar treatment.

It is not possible to kill a large number of animals without problems. It is a disgusting business and there’s no way to videotape the process. We cannot even do it to people in prison spending millions of dollars on the process without a problem, yet the dog warden is expected to do it many times weekly in a manner that appears gentle to the cameras?

I’ve asked the anti-shelter folks many times, “Who is going to replace Luzio and what methods are they going to use that will be better?”. The answer is always similar to, “Oh I’m sure somebody more qualified with do something more efficient and humane than Luzio.”. Really? They have nothing. All of the picketing, screaming, and shouting, but no plan for the next step after Luzio is removed. No Commissioner running for office is addressing the issue either.

Anti-shelter people, I understand your emotions. Anyone who’s owned a dog they loved can’t stand the thought of seeing one put to sleep. The thought that they’re tortured when they’re killed makes it even worse. Do they suffer in the gas chamber? I’m sure they must for a brief period and it’s sad. Are there better ways? Probably and we should keep working on viable solutions and listening to the professionals that know best. Nobody is disputing that we can’t constantly keep improving the situation.

The problem is that you will never make any progress by attacking people that must solve the animal control problem. Just doing the job itself is proven to bring on psychological problems to workers. As animal lovers, you should understand that what we do to them is a direct reflection of what we do to ourselves. You add to the employees suffering when you attack them for everything they do. Most of what they do is because they are following the procedures that the law requires. There are so many rules for every detail of the process that I’m sure nobody could follow every one of them without violation. Many of you cannot follow every detail of a simple employee handbook at your workplace can you? There handbook makes yours read like a business card and carries legal penalties.

It’s hard to argue with the anti-shelter crowd when the true means to their mission is a political end, but you’re welcome to comment. The followers are emotionally attached to the issue and so far I haven’t found one that can make a rational argument. I would welcome any that can.

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