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updated: 1/4/2013 6:00 AM

Kane County prepares to revamp animal control yet again

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It took several months and the formation of a task force for Kane County Board members to decide they wanted an animal control director who could be both the agency's administrator and veterinarian. But that was a decision by an old board; on Thursday, members of the new board euthanized that decision.

Members of the county board's public health committee voted to again seek a new animal control director. The former director, Kimberly Rudloff, resigned in May -- without explanation after only a few months on the job -- and was the first administrator/veterinarian to run the agency. The county board created the position hoping to save the cost of contracting with an outside veterinarian. The agency has since operated without a permanent director and has again contracted with an outside veterinarian. Public health department staff members now believe an animal control director is needed to get the business operations side of the agency under control.

The agency receives no property tax support from the county and is not solvent to the point where it can pay all its bills. The county board approved a plan last year for the agency to defer its debt payments for the pound it runs until 2014. A $280,374 payment will be due at that time.

The Kane County Public Health Department oversees the animal control agency, and it also has no permanent director. Interim Executive Director Barb Jeffers told county board members Thursday she believes, with a reduction in the salary for the animal control director position, it would actually be cheaper for the county to hire an agency leader without veterinarian credentials and retain the outside veterinarian contract.

But not all board members were ready to dump the months of work the previous board put into deciding an administrator who is also a veterinarian is the best direction for the agency. "Just because we had one that did not work out does not mean we should throw out the baby with the bath water," county board member T.R. Smith said.

Smith agreed with other board members that expenses in animal control are excessive. One estimate shared Thursday said animal control spends an average of $2,000 per animal in its care but still ends up euthanizing about 20 percent of them.

"We cannot justify that in any way, shape or form," Smith said.

If approved by the full county board, the new animal control director will not be a veterinarian.

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