New Senate Bill Could Put Local Shelter Animals at Risk

- ROCKFORD --  County animal shelters are  wall to wall, floor to ceiling packed with pets. Now animal experts warn a new Illinois Senate bill could triple the shelters' burden by virtually taking away help from not-for-profit rescue centers.

Noah's Ark adoption counselor Marcia Brice shows off some of the shelter's latest additions, many of which are strays.

"By us taking in strays we do relieve some pressure from animal control since they are over crowded a lot," said Brice.

With wall to wall dogs and even more cats, Winnebago County Animal Services admits it needs the help.

"We work together with a lot of groups now to try to get animals to their homes," said Donna Apgar, adoption coordinator for Winnebago County Animal Services

But if a proposed Illinois senate bill becomes law, it could change the way the two work together. It would require any animal brought to a rescue, specifically strays, to be handed over to animal control within 24 hours. It would centralize a location for lost pets, making it easier to keep track of each animal.

"For the community it might be easier to have them focus on one," said Apgar, "but just not sure what that impact would be, what the burden would be on the shelter at this time."

But Angels 4 Animals director Kathy Mehalko worries the burden would be a financial one, and that could eventually have a deadly outcome.

"I see the euthanization rising dramatically because they can't afford to vet the animals that come in," said Mehalko.

As Brice looks over the bill, she says it worries her that the state isn't seeing the big picture on how this could hurt these furry faces.

"We're all supposed to be in it for the animals so I, we should all just work together," said Brice.

The SB 0648 is currently in an agriculture committee.

Winnebago County Animal Services says one way to reduce the number of strays is to make sure your pet is micro chipped and keep your information up to date. On June 21st the county will hold a Microchip Clinic from 10am-2pm. The first 50 cats and first 50 dogs will be micro chipped for free. The clinic is limited to Winnebago County residents.

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