The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

County defines goal, duties for animal control

Joy Swearingen, Quill correspondent

The Hancock County Board is working to clarify its role in local animal control.

The county has a dog pound southwest of Carthage and hires a part-time animal control warden, however it is not authorized to pick up stray dogs.

At a special county Health Committee meeting on Dec. 15, Michelle Long was appointed as temporary part-time animal control warden. The committee held a lengthy discussion to give direction to Long.

Health Committee chairman, Andrew Asbury, reported their findings at the regular meeting of the Hancock County board on Dec. 19.

“The county has a no-leash law which states we do not have the authority to pick up stray dogs,” states the minutes of the Dec. 15 meeting. “Each town in the county has their own ordinance.”

Long is to do no transportation of dogs, nor any catching of dogs. If there is a dog bite, vicious dog or neglected dog, the sheriff’s department will respond.

If somebody drops a dog off at the pound, Long should take care of it. The county will hold the dog until the municipality determines where it goes. Towns are responsible for the cost of holding the dog. The fee for the pound is $20 impound fee plus $15/day. The county’s role is to make the animals safe.

The full county board approved a mission statement drawn up by the Health Committee to define its role in fulfilling the mandate of the Illinois Animal Control Act.

“The goal of animal management is to serve and protect the pets and people of Hancock County through compliance of state statutes as they pertain to the care and welfare of domestic animals. We seek to educate and engage our residents in the practices of responsible pet ownership.”

Long was asked to make a list and prioritize what needs to be done at the pound.

Video surveillance is being set up, to see when dogs are left at the pound.

Long was authorized to buy three trail cameras to be installed until internet is provided at the pound for more sophisticated surveillance equipment.

The board approved a microchip program which would install and register a chip into any animal brought to the pound that does not already have a chip. This could provide documentation if an animal is repeatedly left at the pound.

Mileage at the federal rate of 57.5 cents per mile was approved for the pound attendant, and a new animal intake form was approved. New signage at the pound was approved.

Board chairman, Mark Menn, made a statement regarding social media criticism of the county’s handling of animals, after a dog was left at the pound without the attendant being notified.

“I am pretty disgusted with certain individuals in this county. Anybody that has the nerve to intentionally take a dog out, throw it over the cage and leave it, unattended, without food or water, and then blame the county for it. They say they are animal activists, but I say they are gutless. And I am fed up with it. We are trying to make it the best we can in this community.”

In other health-related action, the board approved the purchase of four heart monitors for ambulances to replace current monitors that are all 16 to 20 years old and no longer supported for repairs.

The four monitors cost $137,085 and will by paid over a five-year period, which has been planned for in the budget. These monitors have a six-year warranty, and are the ones preferred by EMS director, Aaron Feigan, and the ambulance board.

Feigan noted that as soon as the county places its order for the new monitors, the Stryker company will provide them with more up-to-date loaners until the new ones are delivered.

Jeff Totten was reported as the new ESDA director. Retiring director, Jack Curfman, will stay on for a while to help in the transition.

The board approved the county engineer salary plan with increases of 3.75 percent in the first year, 2.3 percent in the second year and 2.2 percent in the third year. Wayne Bollin recused himself from the vote, and Steve Lucie voted no.

After the vote Lucie explained his “no” vote was not a no-confidence vote for county engineer, Elgin Berry. He said he didn’t agree with some of the financing of the contract.

An agreement between the sheriff’s office and the City of Warsaw was approved. Warsaw will pay for half the salaries of one and a half deputies, plus expenses for gas and patrol vehicles.

At the meeting, Warsaw mayor, Mike Heisler stated: “This been a good experience for us. Everything I have to say is positive.”

Warsaw will pay $10,310.96 monthly for deputies and vehicle costs. Increases to the agreement will follow pay negotiations in the Sheriff’s Office union contract.

A moment of silence was held during the meeting in tribute to former county board member, Harold Stuckwisch, who passed away this week.

In other business, the board: