Editorial: Proper ordinances can help animal rescue operations

By on August 13, 2010

Anderson Animal Shelter recently asked for public support to assist the agency in resolving an animal hoarding case (see related story).

An unnamed, local municipality contacted the shelter with a request to help rescue at least 30 cats from one residence. It is unusual for both the municipality or the individual resident to remain unnamed. Anderson Animal Shelter Executive Director Sandy Shelby explained that in this case, releasing either piece of information would jeopardize the shelter’s ability to obtain the cats.

Shelby attributed this risk as being due to the lack of a municipal animal-control ordinance that limits the number of cats that can reside in a residence. Shelby said that in many communities in Illinois, cats are not even mentioned in animal-control ordinances.

“We were fearful that if we identified the owner and where the house was, that the owner would not release the animals then,” Shelby said.

Because hoarding in general—and animal hoarding in particular—most often occurs due to a mental illness, rescuing the animals from the person and the person from him or herself can be a delicate and uncertain situation if proper ordinances are not in the books to allow authorities to step in when needed.

Not only do we hope to see the public step up and held the shelter rescue the animals, but we also hope this incident leads all area municipalities to take a second look at what ordinances they have, or don’t have, and make any changes necessary to give them the authority to rescue both the animals and the person suffering from a often-misunderstood mental illness.

About Ryan Wells

Ryan Wells is the owner and publisher of the Elburn Herald. You can reach him at RyanWells@elburnherald.com, or by calling (630) 703-9201, ext. 107.

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