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Animal Control Kill Policy Questioned

County board members say their policy of keeping animals for 37 days before killing them is longer than state law requires.

As county leaders continue the search for a new warden, one Yorkville woman complained last week about a policy of killing animals that were not removed from the shelter after 37 days.

Michelle Alexander said county leaders had been strictly enforcing the 37-day deadline since former Warden Christine Johnson resigned after telling the public a dog that bit a 6-year-old had been euthanized. A family had actually adopted the dog, a Bull Mastiff named Moose, who was destroyed after the issue was publicized.

Alexander asked board members last week to give shelter animals a stay-of-execution if space was available at the shelter after the deadline, while board members said the 37-day limit was much longer than legal requirement. Stray animals must be kept for seven days, while there is no housing requirement for animals released by their owners, according to state statute.

“I don’t want my money, my tax dollars, to go toward this high-kill shelter, because that is what you have voted on this to become,” Alexander said. “You’re laughing.”

A county board member disputed the “high-kill” label, and Alexander replied: “It is if you’re going to kill the dogs every 37 days.”

Alexander also worried that leaders only began following their 37-day limit after the bite incident, which happened at the Animal Control shelter while the boy’s father was completing court-ordered community service work.

Alexander pointed to a Nov. 18, 2010 article in the that indicated Board Member Anne Vickery had said leaders weren’t following the 37-day rule as long as there was room in the facility. Johnson made similar comments to Patch in January.

“To think that some of these dogs would just die that are healthy and adoptable because of what’s been going on, it breaks my heart,” Alexander said. “If there are cages available, I’d ask that you please reconsider.”

Later in the County Board meeting Sept. 6, Vickery, who also leads the board’s Animal Control Committee, explained that they implemented the 37-day limit about seven years ago after a prior warden (not Johnson) had turned the facility into a “pit bull rescue.”

She also said county leaders had not “knowingly” killed a healthy animal. Citing figures from the most recent committee meeting, Vickery said 26 of the 238 dogs the shelter has handled this year were euthanized. That’s about 10.9 percent.

Of those 26 dogs, 13 were pit bulls that were biters, while the rest were sick, injured or unadoptable, Vickery said.

Vickery also said county leaders planned to interview eight candidates for the permanent warden position late last week. The field of eight was selected from more than 30 applications the county received for the position.

County leaders also plan to hire one or two more full-time positions after the decision on the new warden is made, Vickery said.

Beth Krane September 14, 2011 at 05:51 PM
First I want to thank all of those that created this nightmare at the Oswego Animal Shelter. I know that sounds terrible, but it is thanks to this mess that my husband and I opened out hearts to bringing in another family member. We just adopted a German Shepherd mix (7 months) from a no-kill shelter. I would have gone to Oswego first, as a kill shelter, but they had already disbursed the animals that were there. Secondly, I agree that Vickery was lacking in her overseeing responsibilities before thus is prone to allowing it to happen again. She needs to be held as accountable as the Warden and others that turned their backs on this situation. Third, animals coming into these situations can be "tested" for temperament but one must keep in mind that not all dogs will behave the same under these conditions as they will in the proper home. It is a guessing game to a point when an animal comes in. Our newest guy was shunned by many shelters because of his breed (mix). There is a risk due to negative publicity. However, we brought him into a home where we understand the work involved in teaching proper behavior, manners, setting expectations, as well as the cost. We walked in knowingly and willingly. He is now our forever member of this family. Though I say all the above about our newest dog, we are not even to week two, and have much to learn about each other. I cannot undo his past, but I can help make each today that much better.
Judi Haft September 14, 2011 at 08:30 PM
Just to be clear, it's Kendall County Animal Control we're talking about and it's out in Yorkville. There are several foster based rescues based in the Oswego area and they do a fantastic job! I agree that Vickery contributed to the problem, but it's not just Vickery. It's the entire Animal Control Committee and Kendall County Board that needs to be held accountable. The only way to truly hold them responsible is with your vote. Next time they are up for re-election, if you feel that strongly, don't vote for them. Dogs can be temperament tested, but that is a picture of how that dog is at that specific moment in time. As a dog gets more accustomed to the situation it is in, it's temperament will change. However, there are things you can tell in a snapshot and you can always retest if the dog is there for a long period of time. It's something that should be done to help find the best home for the dog. Let's give them some time to clean up their act . The situation that brought this into the open happened about 90 days ago. The warden resigned and they put out ads to fill the position. They are interviewing and hopefully one of the people that applied will be a good fit and can clean things up and help them see that some of their policies are bad (like this 37 days). Let's also realize this is government and policies cannot be changed overnight - there are processes that need to be followed. The right person in the warden position will help accomplish that.
Deborah Horaz October 05, 2011 at 06:01 PM
A website would help.
James Potter December 31, 2011 at 02:19 PM
I agree very strongly! These animals should be placed in foster homes and given a second chance. We don,t euthenize people for being homeless or imperfect. Foster care works better and helps these frightened animals feel loved again.
James Potter December 31, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Les and Ellen Potter agree. All and every animal in this situation will be stressed and scared and will act out of character. So Kendall County, CLEAN UP YOUR ACT! STOP KILLING INOCENT ANIMALS!

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