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posted: 3/27/2012 3:23 PM

Faulty Kane rabies records spark $30,000 problem

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Mismanaged records at Kane County's Animal Control facility recently resulted in a slew of residents receiving tickets in the mail for failing to keep the rabies vaccinations for their pets up to date.

The problem is, the county sent all of those tickets out based on its own outdated records. The result was untold time and money wasted on the printing and mailing of the tickets plus the court time wasted on violations that were dismissed.

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Kimberly Rudloff, the county's new animal control administrator, is in charge of fixing the problem. She told a committee of county board members it will take up to 10 weeks to get the rabies vaccination records up to date. It also will take $30,000 to hire temporary data entry employees to input the information for 60,000 rabies certificates. The county's information technology department is also developing an electronic method of updating rabies information for pets. Once complete, veterinarians will have one standardized form to fill out and send in electronically to animal control. Pet owners also will have an online method for making payments to animal control for the first time.

Rudloff said, from what she can tell by her first few weeks on the job, the vaccination records got off track as the understaffed department was overwhelmed by other duties. She said it will be late June before the department starts sending out tickets for vaccination violations again.

That means the department may blow its budget expectations in terms of the amount of money officials expected to collect from violations this year. Board members on the Public Health Committee blamed Public Health Executive Director Paul Kuehnert for the situation.

"I am yet again so disappointed that it had to get to that level," said county board member Melisa Taylor. "I brought this situation to the health department director's attention repeatedly only to get nothing but resistance."

Taylor is one of the people who erroneously received a rabies shot ticket in the mail and had to go to court to get it dismissed.

Kuehnert acknowledged the system failure but said income from vaccination tickets already had been down as people forego pet shots during a bad economy. He said he expects an updated system will see that income increase as the county will have better information on who really deserves to receive a ticket.

In the meantime, he said, he'll use part of the $150,000 in the department's reserve fund to fix the system.

Board members also proposed an initial amnesty for residents who are delinquent in rabies vaccines for their pets to encourage them to do the right thing for their pets and the health of the community.

A report also released on Tuesday showed there were 948 reported animal bites in Kane County in 2011.

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