Danville to vote on temporary animal-control deal

Danville to vote on temporary animal-control deal

DANVILLE — Danville aldermen Tuesday night will consider temporarily hiring the county for its animal control services as a stop-gap measure until city and county officials can figure out a long-term arrangement.

The resolution that aldermen will vote on tonight does not specify exactly what services the county would provide when those services will be provided, when it would begin or how much it might cost the city. Mayor Scott Eisenhauer and City Attorney David Wesner could not be reached for comment Monday.

Vermilion County Attorney Bill Donahue said the city has a lot of animal ordinances, and the county does not have enough staff to enforce and carry out everything Danville has on the books.

"It's a work in progress," Donahue said. "We are trying to reach out and do what we can."

Because this proposal came about so quickly, the city and county are still working on a plan, Donahue said, but added that the county is doing its best to meet the needs of the city.

"If there's a serious problem, the county will do its best to step up," he said.

Less than two weeks ago, the city suddenly found itself with no animal control services when the new board members at the Humane Society of Danville decided not to deliver the city's animal control services. The city had a month-to-month arrangement with the non-profit humane society, which it was paying about $73,000 a year, to employ animal control officers and enforce its ordinances.

Shortly after the humane society's decision, Eisenhauer announced an interim agreement with the county, though nothing had been approved by the city council. Eisenhauer has said he hopes that a long-term agreement between the city and county can be put together in March.

For years, the society had contracted with the city, but the two entities could not work out a new long-term deal the last two years. Eisenhauer had called for various changes at the humane society in response to community criticism over the organization's policies and handling of animals by shelter staff. At the same time, an independent committee put together by the city recommended combining efforts with the county, but that plan called for more money on an annual basis from the city for hiring more animal control officers and an expansion of the county's animal shelter on Catlin-Tilton Road.

Since then, the humane society's entire board has turned over, the long-time director retired, and the most recent director is no longer running the facility. A group of local volunteers stepped in to take the organization in a new direction.

The humane society currently has just three directors on its board, all appointed in the last several months. On March 1, the board will hold an election to fill its other nine seats.

The ballot has already been finalized, with more than 20 candidates for the nine spots. Volunteers also launched a membership campaign that quickly swelled the humane society's membership from less than 50 to more than 300, according to Tre Roberts, one of the three current board members.

Roberts said volunteers have been organizing the humane society's documents and cleaning the facility itself, which continues to house and adopt animals.

"We are not going to be doing euthanasia in house," Roberts said, adding that the organization is now actively working with rescues to find homes for animals with a good chance to be adopted.

Humane society voting

WHO: To be eligible to vote, a person must purchase a society membership by 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Humane Society, 1225 N. Collett St., Danville. A single-year membership costs $10; a lifetime membership, $100.

WHEN: 8 a.m. to noon on March 1

WHERE: Danville municipal building, 17 W. Main St.

ABSENTEE VOTING: If members cannot be present at the election, they can vote absentee by e-mailing board member Steve Houghton at sjh5855@comcast.net by 4:30 p.m. Friday. Absentee ballots must be returned by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 28.

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