Winter can be tough time for animals

RANTOUL — Village Animal Control Officer Danny Russell said what he found early Wednesday morning was “painful,” but he is glad he doesn’t have to deal with such issues that often.

The painful part was finding two smaller dogs that had been left outside in subzero weather.

He said a neighbor called authorities to tell them the dogs had been left outside all night. (See related story.) The owner disputed that claim, Russell said.

He said the dogs — a beagle mix and a Jack Russell Terrier — appeared to be in good shape when rescued, so he is not sure if they had been outside all night or not.

“They weren’t injured when we took them in,” Russell said. “They had makeshift dog houses and hay with them. They didn’t have any frosbite and no visual injuries when we took them to county animal control.”

He said the owner indicated she had let the dogs out and had to leave, and the dogs would not come back into the house.

Russell said the owner did not contact animal control until the following day after the dogs were taken.

The dogs will remain with the county, Russell said, and won’t be returned until the owner has paid his fine or penalty. The fine for the charge of cruelty to animals is not less than $125 and not more than $750.

He hopes the owner will learn from the incident. Russell plans to drive past the Briarcliff Drive home occasionally to make sure the dogs are being taken care of, if the owner gets the dogs back.

Generally, animal control doesn’t go out patrolling for animals in distress during bad weather.

“We basically wait for complaints from residents about issues, and then we go out,” Russell said. “Sometimes we are traveling around the village and see something that will be corrected.”

He occasionally sees dog houses or other shelters that aren’t adequate to protect animals in inclement weather. Also, sometimes, dogs are let out do “do their business” and are left out too long.

“It’s not real common what we found Wednesday,” he said.

Animal control did receive another call about animals being left out last week, but it turns out the dogs were in good hands. The animals were outside, but they could go into a heated garage whenever they wanted.

Russell recommended the owners leave the dogs strictly in the garage during the cold snap.

Russell, who has been on the job for 28 years, has seen plenty of odd cases. His most unusual pet rescue was a steer that got loose from a trailer and visited the front yard of Combe Laboratories on Rantoul’s west side.

The animal posed a danger because it was close to U.S. 136.

Russell and others chased the steer around for hours before he decided to call Dr. Tom Updike to get a tranquilizer dart. Russell’s aim was true as he shot the animal in the flank.

Before the subdued steer could fall asleep, his pursuers managed to get him back in the cattle trailer.

On another occasion, a large tortoise escaped from the property of Dr. Dennis Stubblefield. The tortoise managed to walk across the highway before it was captured and brought back home.

Russell’s job has shifted in many cases to serving as mediator in disputes among neighbors, and their problems with animals are brought into the dispute.

“It goes to neighbors not talking to one another any more,” Russell said.

Other cases have involved owls, a few bats and even some deer. But mostly, Russell deals with dogs and cats. And mostly the cases are in decent weather. Not like last week’s.

“We were fortunate” the two dogs did not suffer permanent injury, he said.


Categories (3):News, Living, Weather


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