©2011 Galesburg Broadcasting Co.
|Residents Suggest Enforcing Animal Control
|In a full room at Galesburg City Hall Wednesday evening, residents expressed their ideas on how the City should handle vicious animals and possible attacks in the future.
The first of two public hearings held by the "Animal Control Working Group" saw more than 20 concerned citizens discuss enforcement and policy changes they would like to see at the City level.
The task force was formed several weeks after the tragic death of 7-year-old Ryan Maxwell - who was killed by a pit bull earlier this year.
Emotions ran high for more than an hour and a half as opinions from different interests were given to the group.
Members of Ryan Maxwell's family were in attendance wearing white support t-shirts.
Maxwell's Aunt, Paula Johnson, addressed the group saying that the public needs to be informed on actions they can take to file official complaints.
"When I was investigating what happened to Ryan and talking to [John] Pepmeyer, talking with the Police Department, I kept being told there were no complaints being filed and I'm there going 'really?' When I read the incident report, there's complaint after complaint," says Johnson. "What constitutes a complaint? And nobody is able to provide me an answer."
Johnson went on to read several graphic details surrounding Maxwell's death from the police report.
Many residents agreed that making owners responsible for their animal was key to making Galesburg a safer community.
Seventh Ward Alderman Jeremy Karlin moderated the meeting and says there is a lot of concern about what residents rights are.
"There are a number of different views as to what the rules exactly are," says Karlin. "Besides just the ordinances, what can you do if you are attacked? Or if you are attacked, what should you do to protect yourself short of shooting the dog?"
Group members had only met once prior to holding the public hearing, but have the goal of collecting as much information as possible in Phase One before comparing notes with neighboring communities and finally recommending changes.
Those in attendance had many questions about why enforcement was lacking in the first place. Roger Underwood is the Knox County Animal Control Officer and says that many departments are held back when it comes to enforcing the ordinances.
"Whether it's the Humane Society Board, or whether it's the the City, or the upper echelon at the Police Department, I don't know who, but I do know that they are only as good as they're allowed to be," says Underwood.
Condolences were given by several speakers to the members of Maxwell's family in attendance.
The Animal Control Working Group has said they hope to strike a balance between property rights and personal responsibility.
The task force will hold a second public hearing on May 16th at City Hall to gather further opinion on the matter.
|05 08 13 by Newsroom
Click here for the WGIL News Archive
Click here for national news
The following provision applies to all visitors (which shall include persons and representatives of legal entities, whether such representatives are persons or digital engines of a kind that crawls, indexes, scrapes, copies, stores or transmits digital content). By accessing this Web site or digital service, you specifically acknowledge and agree that: (i) Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium; (ii) No Associated Press materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use; (iii) The Associated Press will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions therefrom or in the transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages arising from any of the foregoing; (iv) The Associated Press is an intended third party beneficiary of these terms and conditions and it may exercise all rights and remedies available to it; and (v) The Associated Press reserves the right to audit possible unauthorized commercial use of AP materials or any portion thereof at any time.