Kane County takes closer look at animal control
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Dr. Jane Davis, deputy administrator for Kane County Animal Control, tours the county's facility before its opening in Geneva Township.
DANIEL WHITE | Staff Photographer, 2007
The Kane County Board's examination of the county's animal control operations continues following the resignation of Administrator Mary Lawrie during a human resources investigation.
Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert said this week that a soon-to-be-released audit will reveal a clean operation. Lawrie was placed on administrative leave just before her departure. Since then, the county has debated the qualifications and pay level for her replacement.
In the meantime, the county board is taking a closer look at animal control. A local animal rescue operation recently complained about receiving four animals that weren't spayed, including one dog with a hernia. State law requires all adopted animals to be spayed, but the implications for animals going to a rescue shelter are not as clear.
Kuehnert apologized this week for the recent situation with the animal rescue operation and said he believes the shelter has come a long way since it first opened in 2007.
"Let's not lose sight of our larger operation," Kuehnert said. "The shelter is there to support our overall mission of controlling rabies."
To that end, the shelter admitted 500 animals in 2010. Local residents went on to adopt 140 — or 28 percent — of those animals. That's up from a 21 percent adoption rate when the shelter opened in 2007.
Euthanasia of animals at the shelter became a touchy subject again recently when staff announced about 85 percent of the animals put down are the result of behavior problems. Kuehnert said the overall euthanasia rate dropped to 29 percent (145 animals) in 2010, compared with a 35 percent euthanasia rate in 2007. Kuehnert said the average euthanasia rate for county-run animal shelters is 45 percent.
"Our focus is really on the humane treatment of animals," Kuehnert said.
The immediate focus for the county board will be on hiring Lawrie's replacement. Many local municipalities contract with the county for animal control support. Those communities expressed an interest in extending their contracts for another year just this week.
Because of that, Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay suggested forming an advisory committee of local government representatives to discuss the qualifications of an animal control director and what types of services should be offered.
Several county board members have voiced their preference to hire a veterinarian as Lawrie's replacement. Lawrie was not a veterinarian, causing the county to spend more money to contract for those services during her tenure.
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