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Wrong dog killed, Kendall shakes up Animal Control

Kendall County Animal Control building 802 John Street Yorkville.

Kendall County Animal Control building at 802 John Street in Yorkville.

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Updated: November 5, 2011 5:22PM

YORKVILLE — Kendall County’s Animal Control facility faces a shake-up in the wake of the discovery that officials there euthanized the wrong dog.

On Friday, Christine Johnson, Animal Control administrator, was placed on administrative leave after she admitted that she lied about having euthanized Moose, a bullmastiff who bit 6-year-old Gavin Lee in the face on July 3.

The boy was accompanying his father, David Lee of Plano, to the shelter, where Lee worked as part of court-ordered community service.

Members of the County Board’s Animal Control Committee convened Friday morning to discuss changes at the facility in light of the bite situation.

During discussion, Erik Devick, a Plano resident involved in dog rescue groups, insisted Moose still was alive and had been mistakenly adopted out to a family in Lake Holiday, an unincorporated subdivision in DeKalb County near Somonauk.

Devick said a dog Animal Control euthanized shortly after the July 3 incident was not Moose, but another bullmastiff. Up until that point, Animal Control and Kendall County officials had been telling the public that Moose was euthanized.

Johnson admitted Friday that the wrong dog had been killed.

“He’s alive,” Johnson said of Moose. “I made a mistake. The dog I put down, I thought was the one.”

When Anne Vickery, chairman of the Animal Control Committee, asked Johnson how long she had known she had euthanized the wrong dog, Johnson said she found out about a week afterward.

It appears the July 3 bite by Moose was his third. He bit a postman in Montgomery in late May, which is why the dog was at the Animal Control shelter, and had bitten someone in his neighborhood earlier than that. It is unclear if Animal Control knew about that first bite.

Devick said he brought his information to the board because he did not think it was fair to euthanize any animal until it had been fairly evaluated. He said he believed that Moose is more than 60 percent blind, which might be why it bit the child at the shelter.

“No dog shows aggression by nature,” Devick said. “It comes from training, or any number of situations. This was a complete breakdown of Animal Control. I believe things should be changed.”

Devick got his wish.

The committee adopted a new set of guidelines for the Animal Control shelter in response to July 3 bite.

The Yorkville shelter will be more secure, and people will no longer have access to rooms where the animals are. Some of the key changes include:

All volunteers must be age 18 or older. Previously, the age was 16. And children will not be allowed near the animals, under any circumstance.

For the moment, officials will eliminate court-ordered community service for Animal Control. Committee members agreed to revisit this point after six months, but Vickery said if court-ordered community service is allowed again in the future, “it will be under a whole different set of rules.”

Citizens 18 and older may observe dogs and cats in “available” rooms, but all interaction must be in the viewing room or on the grounds outside the building.

The committee agreed on a number of other procedural changes, too. The changes will go to the full County Board Tuesday for consideration.

Committee member Suzanne Petrella said she wants the changes to be considered provisional, so the board can revisit how they work and if some of the tightened regulations are necessary. She said she is particularly concerned because the regulations will mean less space for cats.

But Vickery said the county has few options with Animal Control right now.

“This is a work in progress,” she said. “We’re very short on room. When this facility was built, the county was 40,000 people.”

“Unfortunately, this is a place that was once perceived as happy, Brownies-visiting, fun. It will be changed forever,” Vickery said. “It can never return to the way it was.”

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