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July 12, 2024

County Board Member Utters Misinformation re: Animal Control Vehicle; A Couple Citizens Repeat It As Truth –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On November 29, 2023

Shelby Co., Ill. (ECWd) –

Considerable discussion was had relating to vehicles of the Animal Control program, and how funds were expended according to the Animal Control Act. This article is intended to dispel misinformation presented as fact, and we would advise our readers to refer to the statutes mentioned within the article and bounce them off of what was stated by board member(s),

The November 9, 2023, Shelby County Board Video, at approximately the 1:11:51:10 mark is where the discussion of the Animal Control Vehicle begins.

The Animal Control Employee has stated he needs a new vehicle, so the county board declared his current vehicle as surplus. There was a discussion that the employee should have been asked if he wanted to keep the old vehicle instead of getting a newer one. We wonder why he would opt to keep the current truck if animal control was truly in need of a newer one.

The issue was the employee wanted a specific truck with a specific topper on the back, now a couple board members are apparently upset the newer vehicle is not the exact vehicle the employee was asking for.

The newer vehicle potential purchase is a regular cab two-wheel-drive F150 for $38,125.00, a previous “bid” (which was actually a quote) for $39,300.00 for a different vehicle 3/4 ton four-wheel-drive extended cab truck (without a bed installed, which would be an additional $24,000.00 – for a total of $63,300.00) was discussed. A board member even said apples to apples comparison, the 3/4 ton vehicle (without a bed and needing an additional $24k for a bed) was a better buy, of course he left out the additional monies needed for a bed. There is no evidence that proper bid specs, which meet state law, were ever developed, which led to the previous “bid” being rejected. The actual totals would be: a) $38,125 for the F150 using the current bed topper on hand, or, b) $63,300 for the 3/4 ton with the additional bed which would need to be purchased for it.

The employee did not show up to the committee meeting when asked or advised of the meeting.

Carol Cole, at approximately the 2:08:35 mark, mentioned animal control “might need to put 30 cats in the back of the truck” as an effort to warrant the additional costs for a different truck.

There was a failed attempt at tabling the vote to purchase the F150, along with comments about “all the equipment” the employee needed to carry in the vehicle.

From my personal (John Kraft) experience as a former Animal Control Warden in Edgar County, the only equipment we “needed” to carry in our F150, regular cab, 2-wheel drive, bench seat, with a standard topper on the bed, was a pair of gloves, a little bag of dog treats, 2 rigid neck sticks to control dogs, a cat grabber for cats, and a dart gun to dart dogs that did not cooperate. All of it fit behind the seat or on the seat/dashboard. We had a couple cages in the bed of the truck (and we never picked up cats – only dogs). I had to use the dart gun twice. Once when I pulled the dart gun out the dog saw it and ran up and jumped into the back of the truck (almost as if it knew what would happen if it didn’t), and another time to tranquilize a rogue dog so I could catch it when it laid down.

The Motion to accept the state bid for the purchase of a new F150 for animal control passed.

Later came a vote to transfer the current animal control vehicle to the Shelby County Dive Team. A board member was apparently unaware the county had a dive team. Another board member questioned whether the current animal control vehicle was purchased with animal control funds, and if the animal control fund would get reimbursed for the price of its used vehicle.

See Section 3 of the Act that prescribes the different funds, and also states the county board shall provide, among other things, equipment (eg: a vehicle) and can use its general county funds for that purpose. Additionally, it mandates funding of the County Animal Population Control Fund: “The Board is authorized by ordinance to require the registration and may require microchipping of dogs and cats. The Board shall impose an individual dog or cat registration fee with a minimum differential of $10 for intact dogs or cats. Ten dollars of the differential shall be placed in a county animal population control fund.” Section 3.5 of the Act does limit where monies from the County Animal Population Control Fund can be expended from this fund which is funded by the $10 differential (fee for non-fixed animals) of the registration fees.

The Animal Control Act, 510 ILCS 5, Section 7 describes the Animal Control Fund is funded with registration fees and how the registration fees may be used, which is for the purpose of paying the costs of the animal control program:

Section 7:  “all fees collected shall be used for the purpose of paying claims for loss of livestock or poultry as set forth in Section 19 of this Act and for the following purposes as established by ordinance of the County Board: funds may be utilized by local health departments or county nurse’s offices for the purchase of human rabies anti-serum, human vaccine, the cost for administration of serum or vaccine, minor medical care, and for paying the cost of stray dog control, impoundment, education on animal control and rabies, and other costs incurred in carrying out the provisions of this Act or any county or municipal ordinance concurred in by the Department relating to animal control, except as set forth in Section 19.

We noticed Section 7 does not specifically mention using this fund to pay for equipment (eg: vehicle), although it might be considered part of the costs of stray dog control, or “other costs,” etc. Wages, utilities, fuel, dog food, etc., would also be considered part of the costs of the program. To use the Animal Control Fund for anything other than paying Section 19 claims for livestock, etc., the county board would have had to first establish an ordinance authorizing the other expenditures. We have not yet asked for a copy of this specific ordinance.

During the discussion on transferring the vehicle to the dive team, at approximately the 2:20:47 mark, a board member states that: “that’s not what the Animal Control Act states though for the Animal Control Fund. The Act says that if you sell something that it goes back to the Animal Control Fund for the Animal Control Fund purposes” – which is another statement not based on fact. That language is not found in the Animal Control Act.

The Motion to transfer the current animal control vehicle to the dive team passed, with a few board members voting against the Shelby County Dive Team getting a newer vehicle.

During public comment, a resident basically repeats the misinformation about the 3/4/ ton only being around $1500 more than the F150, while also “forgetting” to mention the additional price of the bed (See video here).

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