At the Logan County board-of-the-whole meeting Thursday night,
animal control chairman Gloria Luster told board members about the
committee's proposal to raise what is currently a $75 fee. This is a
fee that would be charged specifically and only to
non-contracting entities. The committee recommended a base fee
of $200 per call that would be charged to any non-contracted
The county offers annual contracts for animal control service to
all municipalities, but there are several municipalities that opt
not to participate.
Three or four communities in Logan County are not under contract
at this time, Luster said. While they are not paying for service,
there are times when animal control is called to go out to pick up
their problem dogs.
Luster said that the process of sending animal control out on a
call to a non-contracted entity (community) would involve getting
the approval of a representative of the municipality, who would be
someone such as their police officer. The municipality would then be
charged the $200 fee. It would be up to the municipality to charge
that fee to the dog's owner.
Initially, the board was favorable and indicated by straw vote
that they would be approving the fee at Tuesday's adjourned session.
However, additional discussion evolved after Sheriff Steve
Nichols commented and asked for clarification.
The sheriff explained to the board about some past experiences.
He said that sometimes the sheriff's department was the first or the
only agency responding to a scene where it was determined that
animal control was needed. He said that often the first question has
been, "Well, who's going to pay for it?"
He said his response was: "I'm not worried about that. The county
is involved now. I want that dog picked up, and we'll worry about
that later." He explained that he would not be able to walk away
from a dog that was a detriment to the people of that city.
Finance chairman Chuck Ruben agreed, saying, "This would create a
liability for the county."
The sheriff requested that it be set up so that any request to
have animal control come out would not have to go through several
steps. Currently, the deputies are contacting him, and he acts as
the intermediary calling animal control. If a person from the
municipality had to give approval also, this would further hamper an
Several board members joined the discussion about how to bill the
municipality and when the new fee would need to be paid. It was
considered whether the $200 fee would need to be paid before the dog
would be released. If this was the case, then could it be permitted
that either the municipality or the dog owner could pay it to animal
control? Or could the municipality be billed and left to collect the
debt from the pet owner, yet the pet owner still pick up the dog
before it was paid?
The owner of the animal would still be obligated to pay boarding
costs and any additional fees that might be incurred, such as if
microchipping or vaccinations were needed before getting the dog
Vice chairman Pat O'Neill agreed that any delay in the release of
a dog would be a detrimental factor. Just the room and feeding can
become costly if an animal is kept for very long, he observed.
Everyone agreed that the less time an animal was held, the better it
would be for everyone.
Ruben recognized that a fee would help cover the costs of going
out to pick up an animal. This might even be better for some
communities than paying an annual contract. He suggested that Luster
take it back to the committee to work out more of the details.
At the city of Lincoln
A few months ago the city of Lincoln discussed some of the issues
the facility has had to deal with. Lincoln does contract for
animal control service with the county, and the majority of animals
going there are from Lincoln.
At the end of October, the city's sanitation and ordinance
committees met to discuss issues that concerned dogs running at
At the end of 2006, the county approved a graduated scale of
fines, fees and actions intended to deter repeat offenders. Time was
showing that the new regulations that stiffened penalties for dogs
repeatedly caught running at large were not having the intended
Dogs get microchipped the first time they are brought in. The
fine or fee was to be increased every time the same dog would be
brought in over a year's time.
Additionally, the second time a dog is brought in, it must be
spayed or neutered before it can be returned to the owner.
[to top of second column]
Tracking animal's history difficult
Lincoln sanitation chairman Dean Henrichsmeyer observed that the
fee that the pet owner pays when retrieving a dog for a first
offense is pretty minuscule at $10. The second time it is $20, and
each pickup in any one year has compounded cost. To keep costs from
becoming too great, every animal's slate is wiped clean each year
and the fee structure starts back at $10.
However, Henrichsmeyer said that people who haven't wanted to pay
the graduated costs have made it difficult for the facility to track
how many times an animal is actually going back to the same owner,
and they have lots of repeat offenders.
The number of dogs caught running at large has not decreased, and
the paperwork for the facility has increased, so they were looking
Spaying animals of second-time offenders
The newer regulations require that a dog be spayed or neutered
after the second offense. For some owners this creates a different
issue than expense. Warden Julie Parker said that some people have
had plans to breed their purebred, and while she couldn't say for
certain, it seemed for some that it was about making money by
selling pups. They've seen this with a number of pit bulls. She said
that the facility has had two break-ins where a dog has been stolen
just after the owners came in and were upset when told that their
animal would need to be fixed before they could get it back.
The economic times have also played a part in challenges the
facility is facing. Parker reported seeing the start of a trend last
fall that broke her heart to see. Families began bringing in their
pets because they either couldn't afford vet care or they lost their
homes and were moving to a rental place where pets weren't allowed.
She said these were not nonchalant repeat violators, but caring
people who were having to choose a place to live for their kids,
"not your cat."
In November, outgoing county animal control chairman Vickie
Hasprey observed, "Out of all that we've gone through this last
couple, three years, thanks to the Humane Society, Pets Without
Parents and a couple of volunteers that have been taking quite a few
animals every month up north to a no-kill shelter, which helps us
out a lot."
Luster said this month that the committee was especially
appreciative of two volunteers, Kelly Cale and Cherrie Preston. The
two have worked hard to help pets find homes or assisted by
transferring animals that don't get homes to no-kill shelters.
Officials at both the city and the county recognize that the
attempt to legislate responsibility is difficult. But they keep
going back to the drawing board to try to find the best solutions.
Other related information
Illinois laws that were passed
House Bill 2946 --
Prohibits certain felons from possessing a dog that is not
spayed or neutered.
House Bill 4238 --
Eliminates a limitation on fines in excess of $50 for dogs
running at large and provides that if the owner of a dog
knowingly allows it to run at large and the dog inflicts serious
physical injury or death to a person, the owner is guilty of a
Class 3 felony.
Illinois law amended in June 2008:
- In an effort to protect our families and communities, the
House Bill 822, which amends the definition of a
"potentially dangerous dog" in the Animal Control Act and the
Animal Welfare Act. The new definition provides that a
"potentially dangerous dog" is one found unsupervised and
running with three or more dogs. This also provides that the
animal shall be sterilized and microchipped within 14 days of a
licensed veterinarian declaring the animal is healthy enough to
undergo the sterilization. The "potentially dangerous animal"
designation shall expire after 12 months.
Past related articles