Lake County Board members pledge stronger stance on businesses that mistreat animals
Lake County Board members this week pledged to redouble efforts to curtail businesses that mistreat dogs, cats and other animals.
The board had been set to include an item scrutinizing pet shops and commercial breeders in its 2020 legislative agenda -- the issues it will sponsor or support at the state and federal levels.
But after much discussion at the committee level, board members on Tuesday opted to pull the pet-related item from the package so the panel's legislative committee can develop a proposal that better addresses the issue.
The proposal that had been drafted for the legislative packet called for the board to support the creation of state legislation that would give it power to forbid pet stores in unincorporated areas from selling commercially bred dogs and cats.
The proposal also said the board would back legislation supporting pet stores that obtain animals from animal control shelters, animal care facilities, humane societies or rescue organizations.
Board member Judy Martini requested the item be pulled from the legislative agenda because it didn't go far enough to ensure the humane treatment of animals.
"(It) really didn't address the intent of why we started looking into the issue in the first place," said Martini, a Fox Lake Republican.
Several other board members -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- also spoke in favor of pulling the item from the package.
Ann Maine, a Lincolnshire Republican, pointed out that the most recent case of egregious animal cruelty in Lake County occurred in 2010 at a commercial kennel in Deer Park billed as a dog rescue facility. The kennel subsequently was demolished and its owner imprisoned.
Maine also noted that the county's proposal didn't clearly establish what problem needs to be addressed or contain meaningful measures to correct that problem.
Additionally, Maine said the county has no regulatory authority over pet stores or breeders.
"That is under the purview of the Illinois Department of Agriculture," she said.
Maine and other board members said they want more data detailing specific animal-safety problems before drafting a new proposal.
Board member John Wasik, a Grayslake Democrat who oversees the legislative committee, said officials will have a "robust discussion" on the matter.
"We will examine the issue closely and we'll talk to everybody we can to make sure we get it right," he said.
Before the board voted to pull the item from the agenda, Round Lake Beach Republican Dick Barr wanted to ensure residents understood the move didn't mean officials are being soft on commercial breeders that abuse animals.
"We want them gone," Barr said. "This is coming back so we can come at it even stronger with better language that actually addresses the root core of the problem."
After the item was pulled from the legislative agenda, Adam Berger, the owner of a Round Lake Beach Petland store and several of his employees spoke to the board and insisted the store gets its dogs from responsible breeders. He said he's invited board members to visit those businesses with him.
Once the item about animals was removed from the package, the board approved the legislative agenda with little discussion and without objection.
Other items on the agenda concern issues including the process for appointing public defenders, property tax exemptions for spouses of disabled military veterans, and the process for reinstating a driver's license revoked for reasons unrelated to improper driving.