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|Animal Control Changes Receive Scrutiny
|The Galesburg City Council got their first chance, in an official capacity, to review a proposal submitted by the Animal Control Working Group.
The group was formed after 7-year-old Ryan Maxwell was killed by a pit bull in March of this year. The task force spent months gathering community opinion and researching the topic of animal control.
Several proposals were put into the report, including: stricter leash laws as well as progressive penalties. Aldermen took their first objections with the recommendation capping the number of animals per household. The objections were raised after more than one resident said they would move before giving up a member of what they consider to be their household.
The Council was largely agreeable thereafter, until the matter of enforcing current ordinance came under discussion.
A proposal to move animal control enforcement back under the control of the Galesburg Police Department drew criticism. Mayor and WGIL Owner John Pritchard allowed the matter to be considered last in the list of potential changes.
Sixth Ward Alderman Wayne Allen compared the proposal to changes to the Neighborhood Enhancement Division from several years ago. He says that instead of moving the projects, try working with the Animal Shelter.
"We have a lot of control to be able to work with these groups," says Allen. "We aren't very good at working with groups, but we're sure good at pointing fingers."
The Prairieland Animal Welfare Center currently receives about $240,000 in the form of contract payments for enforcing and sheltering animals within City limits. Employees of the shelter have been vocal and quick to point out perceived inaccuracies throughout the discussions held by the working group.
Task Force Chair and Seventh Ward Alderman Jeremy Karlin says that if the City is going to take a harder approach, the policing should be done by the police.
"If we have a disagreement with the Humane Society and their approach, we have no means by which to say 'do it differently' other than cancelling their contract or not renewing it in two years," says Karlin.
Aldermen were skeptical of the assertion by City Administration that the change would be more cost effective under the City's control. The Council, however, did criticize the method used to determine whether a dog is dangerous, vicious, or simply a victim of circumstance.
Humane Society Adoption Coordinator Erin Buckmaster says that they are working to improve the process with the help of a soon to be retired judge as well as an ex-Chief of Police who would like to assist in determining a dog as dangerous or vicious.
"That's why I got involved in the Humane Society in the first place," says Buckmaster. "To make sure that the dogs on chains were taken care of and to do these welfare checks. I like working with the Police Department, they're very good at assists, but I always want to have that ability to check for myself."
The City Council recommended by a vote of 5-2 that the responsibilities stay with the animal shelter.
Direction provided to City Administration will now be put in ordinance form before going to first reading at a future City Council meeting.
|07 29 13 by Newsroom
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