McLeansboro Times-Leader


August 16, 2012

Animal rescuers seek county's help

Volunteers ask board for animal-control employee for outside city limits

McLEANSBORO — Local animal rescue volunteers are seeking the county’s help with the problem of mistreated and abandoned animals.

Dita Campbell, speaking on behalf of the Animal Rescue Klub here, last week asked Hamilton County Board to consider hiring an animal-control employee for the county.

“We take a lot of complaint calls about animals,” Campbell told the board at its meeting Aug. 9. “When we call the state, it takes them days to get here, and then they say, ‘Why can’t this be handled locally?’”

At one time, the city of McLeansboro and Hamilton County had an intergovernmental agreement regarding animal control, County Board member John Chapman said. But currently, the city provides animal-control services within city limits only.

County Board Chairman Joe Bernard said Friday he’d like the county to talk to the city “to see if we can get something worked out with them.”

Two Animal Rescue Klub volunteers, Kathy Johnson and Ginny Minder, take in stray and abandoned animals — mostly dogs and cats — at their homes. They work with the city’s animal-control officer and work to adopt out the animals to good homes, Minder said.

Handling complaints of animal mistreatment is another matter, Campbell told the County Board. Part of the problem, she said, is that many people simply don’t know how to responsibly care for their animals.

“The problem most of the time is a small thing (to correct), like tying a dog out in the hot sun,” she said.

Campbell has no problem advising people about caring for their animals, she said, and some people will listen to her — but others just “get mad.”

While the ARK volunteers can tell people how to care for their animals, an animal-control officer with enforcement authority would be a help, Minder said.

“In the county, there’s nobody to talk to the people other than us,” she said, “and we can’t make them do anything.”

In the past, the county reimbursed the city for animal-control services, Chapman said. But that agreement has long since gone by the wayside.

The city currently has an employee, Justin Barrow, whose duties include — but are not limited to — animal control and caring for animals in the city’s custody, Mayor Dick Deitz said. Barrow is only authorized to respond to calls within city limits, the mayor said.

Campbell said Barrow works well with the Animal Rescue Klub, but someone is needed to handle animal complaints outside city limits.

Meanwhile, the club continues its efforts to help with abandoned animals. Johnson told the County Board she adopts out more than 300 dogs per year.

The problem of mistreated and abandoned animals grieves her, she said, but trying to help with the problem has become a mental and physical as well as a financial burden.

“In the last three weeks, I’ve had seven dogs dumped on me,” she said.

• ARK’s Ginny Minder encourages people who are looking to take in a pet to consider adopting from the city’s animal facility. For questions about adoption, you may call Minder at 643-3874.


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