Earlier this week, a Facebook post from Iroquois County Animal Rescue (ICARe) caught the attention of residents and animal lovers.
“Our local animal control center has just informed us that from now on they will only keep pets they pick up for a total of 14 days,” the message read. “If they are not claimed within that time or the placement cannot be found, the animal will be euthanized.”
However, County Council Chairman John Shure cleared up some misconceptions about the post and the stigma surrounding animal control as a whole.
“I’m not aware of any changes,” Shure said, noting that animal control still operates under a 10-day detention period.
“The 10-day requirement is a state requirement and a requirement that Iroquois County has also adopted in our animal control.”
Although there has not been an increase in the number of detention days as stated in the message, this does not mean that animal control is holding animals until the end of the 10 day period in order to so they can euthanize them.
“One thing you have to understand is that euthanasia is the last resort,” Shure said. “We are still trying to find the owner or have the animal adopted.”
Iroquois County Animal Control, which is a self-funded organization, often works with Iroquois County Animal Rescue and Vermillion County Animal Shelter. When these shelters have space, they house pets and work on foster families and adoptions.
Euthanasia occurs when shelters are overcrowded or animal control cannot find the owner. Still, the organization tends to keep animals longer than this 10-day period to push the animal’s placement efforts.
“We just have too many animals and not enough good animal homes,” Shure said. “It’s a problem everywhere, not just in Iroquois County.
Iroquois County Animal Control Officer Jacob Williams said in the five months he was there they put down a dog altogether and only because he was aggressive and bit a child .
“We do everything we can to find shelters,” Williams said, echoing Shure’s comments that euthanizing an animal is never the first choice.
Williams said when it comes to lost pets, especially dogs, microchipping is key.
Unlike Kankakee County, Iroquois does not have a mandate that requires dogs to be microchipped. Williams encourages pet owners to take this step in case their dog gets loose.
“If the dogs are microchipped, we can return them to owners within 24 hours,” he said.
Although Shure and Williams agreed that they were lucky to place most cats and dogs, there is a particular problem with placing pit bulls due to the stigma that they are an aggressive breed.
“There are plenty of examples of homes with pit bulls and there’s no problem,” Shure said.
“I’ve had dogs all my life and I know that no matter the breed you can always have problems. No breed is immune to this.
Currently, there are three pit bulls in the care of Iroquois County Animal Control that they and ICARe are working to find homes for. Briar, Bree and Bristol are nearing the end of a placement period and are at risk of euthanasia.
As of Thursday, two foster homes are in the process of becoming hosts to two of the dogs.
To help solve this problem, ICARe is offering a free microchip to pit bulls living in Iroquois County.
“We want to put in place protections for pit bulls because they are the dogs that don’t find shelter,” said ICARe President Margaret Fox.
Fox said they would continue to make microchips “until we run out of microchips.”
“When we do, we’ll probably be looking to raise funds to buy more so we can keep doing it,” she said.
Much like pit bulls, Shure says animal control is often “mischaracterized.”
“People think we’re trying to kill dogs and that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” he said. “We are here to serve people and protect people and dogs.”