Animal Ordinance Inconsistency

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

Where we live dictates what laws we have to follow, but for those living in the unincorporated parts of Winnebago County the laws are few and far between, at least in terms of animal control.

Who is behind the trees is what Judy Sahlstrom is scared of. Judy says, "I don't want to get chewed up."

At least 11 pit bulls only have a chain and a thin wired fence stopping them from running free, and what Judy has been hearing over and over is that there is nothing Winnebago County Animal Servies can do.

The pit bulls are located in the unincorporated part of Winnebago County. That means residents have to abide by Illinois state laws which do not include leash laws, barking ordinances or restrictions on the number of animals a household is allowed to have.

Gary Longanecker, director of Winnebago County Animal Services, tells 23 News, “I understand the complaints and frustration, but under the existing laws there is nothing we can do."

Several calls come in daily to Animal Services complaining about pet owners, but depending on what is in the law books determines if the owner can be fined. Here's how random the laws can be: any city in Winnebago County has a leash law, barking ordinance, and a running at large ordinance, but for those living in an unincorporated subdivision only the leash law applies.

To change the inconsistency in the laws, Winnebago County Animal Services would have to seek permission from state legislators to amend existing laws.

"My husband said we will have to stay here. No one will buy a home, especially anyone with children, where there are 11 dogs next door," says Judy.

Judy is hoping that more protection will come before we hear of another dog attack.


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