‘We Were Lied To’: Brothers Upset with WCAS, Push “No-Kill” Policy

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“This picture is one of my favorites,” said Vincent Olds as he looked at a picture of his two pit bull pups. “It looks like Ashley is kissing her sister, ‘I love you sis’,” laughed Olds.

Vincent’s brother Bill says they’d tote the two dogs along virtually everywhere, adding that “they were family”.

But when Bill and Vincent fell on on hard times, they made the heartbreaking decision to give up Ashley and Sasha.

“We had been searching for at least four to five months,” explained Vincent, “pit bull rescue, pit bull rescue, Noah’s Ark, Tails, Paws, they’re all full.”

So with no other option, the Olds brothers brought Ashley and Sasha to Winnebago County Animal Services. They were promised that if both dogs passed a temperament test, they’d be just fine. The dogs were released on Dec. 7, 2015. By the afternoon of Dec. 8, both were dead.

“I cried, William cried, because it’s right there,” said Vincent as he pointed to the documents he and his brother only received after using the Freedom of Information Act. “They euthanized them.”

It was, and still is a tearful reaction Becky Grimmier says no one should have to encounter. That’s why she’s started a petition to make Winnebago County Animal Services a ‘no-kill’ shelter.

A chart provided by WCAS shows that in 2015, 33 percent of shelter animals were euthanized. But it’s something Grimmier isn’t buying based on what she found from 2014.

When I found the USDA application for… the most current year, 2014, the euthanasia rate overall is 59%”

Her FOIA’d document shows in 2014, on average WCAS euthanized 36% of shelter dogs, 70% of shelter cats, and 74% of other shelter animals.

Grimmier filed 26 FOIA requests on Wednesday. She is seeking answers regarding the decision making process on which pets to euthanize. She says those answers aren’t coming directly, and neither are our’s.

Eyewitness News reached out to Winnebago County Animal Services several times on the phone and once in person. We received the following written statement on Tuesday:

“Any concern for the well-being of animals is admirable and is shared by the staff at WCAS.  Unfortunately, the staff is not able to unilaterally convert the shelter into a no-kill shelter. The Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office has interpreted the laws that govern the shelter as follows: The shelter was established by the Winnebago County Board, by the authority granted to it by the Illinois General Assembly.  Each of these legislative bodies has enacted laws that govern the operation of the shelter.  The General Assembly enacted the Illinois Animal Control Act, which mandates that counties establish Animal Control departments, primarily to prevent the spread of deadly diseases–in particular, rabies.  The Animal Control Act also granted counties the authority to establish an animal shelter and offer adoptable animals for adoption and to transfer animals to licensed rescues, humane societies, or foster homes, as Winnebago County does.  The Animal Control Act states that if no placement is available for an animal, it shall be humanely euthanized. (510 ILCS 5/11) The County Board, in turn, enacted the Animal Control Ordinance of Winnebago County.  That ordinance requires, among other duties, Animal Services to humanely care for impounded animals, follow state law to prevent the spread of rabies, and to euthanize impounded animals according to policy.  In short, any changes would need to be made at a legislative level, by the elected members of the County Board and General Assembly. 

Winnebago County Animal Services will continue to work proactively through promotion, education and rescue transfer to save more lives as we also review our procedures and policies.  There will continue to be new strategies in our field, we have to determine what best fits our operation and the community needs.

No further comment is available at this time.”

Grimmier says she intends to address the Winnebago County Board during the public comment slot of Thursday’s meeting.

” I want them to be aware of the facts that I’ve found,” said Grimmier, “then I’ll just give them a very brief summary on the ‘no-kill’ solution.”

“If the deaths of our dogs can facilitate Winnebago County Animal Services becoming a ‘no-kill’ organization, then they wouldn’t have died in vain,” said Vincent.

WCAS cited under the condition of the Olds’ dogs that they were “emaciated”. Both brothers deny that accusation and say the dogs were well cared for.

For a link to Grimmier’s ‘no-kill’ petition, click here.

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