There’s a disagreement taking place in Morgan County, Illinois between Animal Control and a rescue group following the discovery and rescue of 28 malnourished and dehydrated dogs at a residence off Literberry Triopia Road in Jacksonville. I apologize for the length of this article but it’s important to tell both sides.
Morgan County Animal Control and local rescue group, Protecting Animal welfare Society (PAWS) are at odds with each other over who should have possession of some of the dogs. What it comes down to is whether a rescue group (in this particular case) should have the first pick or should the public through adoption.
The investigation and the rescue of 28 dogs
The investigation began last Monday and was conducted by animal control with the help of Morgan County Sheriff’s Department. PAWS also assisted and that rescue was the one to take the dogs to the county shelter where they were checked out by a veterinarian the next morning.
Many of the dogs including Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians and Maltese had severely matted coats. Half a dozen dogs had dental problems and were infested with fleas, according to Morgan County Animal Control Officer L.C. Clinton. The dogs weren’t spayed or neutered and were being housed in a way breeding would run rampant.
The investigation is still ongoing and the report will be given to the state’s attorney at its conclusion. Not only were dogs found on the property, so were cats, ducks, and chickens. I haven’t seen anything on whether these were rescued or left on the property.
Now for the dilemma. Animal control gives the public first pick on the dogs unless the animal is in serious condition and needs immediate medical assistance. Otherwise, animal control makes the animals available for rescue after the adoption period if the animal doesn’t find a forever home.
The situation according to Lisa Jackson, founder of PAWS
“Last week I received an anonymous call about a puppy mill outside of Jacksonville. If this were to be true, I wanted the help of our local animal control.
I called one of the AC officers I’ve known for years and told them of the situation. After following the proper procedure, said officer decided to seize the small dogs he found outside in horrid conditions.
I (Lisa) received a call from a law enforcement officer saying that there were 20+ dogs and they could use help.
Myself and a few volunteers loaded up taxis and went out to help. Upon arriving there were already 20 dogs loaded and more inside the residence which we didn’t have access to. A short time later the owner of the dogs showed up to say ” y’all can go on, ya ain’t getting shit.”
I approached him and explained that we really needed the rest of the dogs and to please allow us to take them.
After some serious persuading, he gave up 7 dogs from inside. Saying there were no more inside.
All 27 dogs were transported to PAWS, where they were weighed and had a description written along with pictures taken. I was told by the AC that they had to go to animal control even though there were 30 kennels set up to provide for them at PAWS.
The dogs were all taken to the pound. The animal control officer went back out to the property to have paperwork signed and it was at this time that the person gave up another dog that was inside. (I’d spoken to the landlord and asked him to please help assure us that there weren’t any more dogs in the home.) Making the total number of dogs 28.
Needless to say, it was a hard night for all of us at PAWS. We aren’t used to not seeing the animals in desperate need, all the way through their journey and to know they had to spend the night in the horrible body conditions was gut-wrenching.
The following morning I called animal control to see if the dogs had been seen by a vet that morning…. they had….I asked if they were now ready to be pulled, to which I was told: “they are.” I stated “ok, may I come get some then?” “No” was the answer I got. ” They will be going to other rescues or adopted out”. I asked again…. “So I can’t pull them?” “No”
After not having any luck reaching the administrator to find out why, I called our commissioner, when I received a callback, it was mentioned that he was told I hadn’t pulled from there in 2 yrs. I admitted this was true. PAWS hasn’t had a good working relationship with AC Office staff for a long time. I felt this current situation was quite the exception since we were so involved from the beginning and had even assisted with documenting the conditions and so forth.
The commissioner told me he “wasn’t going to tell animal control how to do their job.” So……this brings us to the original reason for this post. Since I was denied the ability to PULL from Morgan County animal control, (we have all the proper credentials) I went and adopted 27 dogs (one of the AC’s kept a pregnant dog)
Within minutes of arriving to PAWS the process of getting them shaved down, washed and set up in comfy quarters began. So I guess I have to say, that I’m not happy about it, as other rescues aren’t charged to pull but PAWS was. We couldn’t bear the thought of them having to stand another minute with all that nasty on them.
The pictures will show you why we felt so strongly about this. Shame that all it took to get the dogs from ac was a checkbook ($2160.) Just another example of the abuse of power and why we don’t play well together.”
Morgan County Animal Control’s side of the story
Officer Clinton said six of the dogs could have been taken by PAWS or other rescue groups free of charge since they were in need of immediate veterinary care. The others were determined to be healthy enough to go up for adoption and would be kept for seven days. At the end of the seven business days, a rescue group could then take the dogs.
“We did not tell her that she could not pull (the dogs). We informed her that we had several that were immediate rescue. Because our policy is we bring them in and if we deem them adoptable — or healthy enough to adopt — we give the general public first choice to come in and adopt.
What our vet had approved … was to put on Facebook for any volunteers that would be willing to come in, clip and help bathe the ones that needed it the most, and brush those that needed to be brushed to make them more presentable, to make them more comfortable.
We have a wash bay here, we have clippers here, if a groomer or volunteer that could clip could come in to help us. We would have done it that way. That’s how we had planned on doing it. It’s just we weren’t given the opportunity.
“My job is to care for the animals. That’s what I’m going to do. I don’t have time to belittle anyone. I’m here to do my job and I hope I’m doing my job correctly.”
Clinton says PAWS was informed. PAWS says they weren’t. Joseph Dumont, an AC supporter, stated on the Morgan County Animal Control Facebook page
“Truth versus fiction. On the left, pictures of the worst looking dogs from the Journal-Courier article. On the right, the majority of the dogs who were full bred Pomeranians and other full bred small dogs, at good weight, and had no issues! MCAC would have made these dogs available to the public for 80 dollars plus the 40 dollar voucher if they needed spay or neuter. I am saying nothing except that it appears the whole story was not told.”
Both sides want the best for these dogs
PAWS has posted an album on their Facebook page showing the condition of many of the dogs who are now under their care. Morgan County Animal Control also has several photos. You can access them here. No information is available at this time as to whether the owner will face charges.
This clash is typical of those I follow daily on Facebook. Michael asked whether I wanted to do this article and I decided to take it on, despite the length I knew it would be (probably my longest in years). Anyone with more information is welcome to post in the comment section below.
Sources 1 and 2