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County can now impound vicious dogs

Vicious dogs unincorporated areas Lake County can now be taken by animal control officers impounded until after hearing. | File

Vicious dogs in unincorporated areas of Lake County can now be taken by animal control officers and impounded until after a hearing. | File photo

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Updated: February 23, 2013 6:09AM



Vicious dogs in unincorporated areas of Lake County can now be taken by animal control officers and impounded until after a hearing.

The changes in the ordinance were approved unanimously by the Lake County Board after county health department officials had several instances regarding vicious dogs. Under the county’s old ordinance officials could not immediately impound the dog, said Mark Pfister, director of population health services for the Lake County Health Department.

County Board member Diane Hewitt of Waukegan had her own personal experience with a neighbor’s vicious dog attacking hers in February 2012 and nearly killing it. Waukegan’s ordinance allowed authorities to impound the dog and get it out of the neighborhood. That dog had jumped the fence around its yard and then attacked her dog.

Hewitt was a big supporter of the new county ordinance.

“It’s something that is happening more and more,” she said. “We’re just excited it’s done.”

Pfister said there are about 2,000 dog bites a year countywide and about 500 of them are domestic animal on domestic animal, which is about 30 percent of the total bites. Last year, there were about 50 serious injuries to domestic animals and about 16 pets died. Four percent of the bites are wild animals biting domestic animals, with the rest animals biting humans.

“If we can impound the animal immediately, that’s extremely helpful for the neighbors,” he said. In extreme cases the attacking dog can be euthanized.

“It’s just another tool we can utilize,” he said, adding the new ordinance has language so the owner of the vicious dog can still appeal the case to the circuit court.

In the past, officials couldn’t impound a dog unless it attacked a human.

Hewitt also found in her case that the dog had injured other animals in the neighborhood, but no one ever called to complain.

“Take the time to make the complaint,” she said.



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