Animal control working group meets and sets goal

April 26, 2013 04:29 PM

Earlier this year, Mayor Sal Garza announced the formation of a committee to look at the animal control ordinances and policies in the community to measure its effectiveness. This committee met for the first time on April 26 and set its goal and priorities. A public hearing has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 8 and again on Thursday, May 16, 2013, in the Council Chambers at city hall. The public is being asked to attend and speak out about their experiences with dogs, as well as those who wish to speak on behalf of dogs in the community.  The public is welcome to come to all other future meetings.

The purpose of the committee is to report findings and offer suggestions for city council consideration. The study will consist of three phases: 1) investigate the challenge of dog attacks in the community; 2) determine whether current city ordinances and policies, if sufficiently are adequate to address the problem; and 3) if current ordinance and policies are found to be insufficient, then identify ordinances and policies of other communities that may address the problem in Galesburg. It is intended that committee will complete its work within the next three months.

The group agreed that ultimately the goal is to better allow families to enjoy the outdoors safely with diminished risk from animal attacks.  Seventh Ward Alderman and group chairman Jeremy Karlin stated, "It is not our task to decide what the solution is. Rather, we are to investigate and provide options for the City Council's deliberation. Given the diversity on our committee, agreement is neither necessary nor may be possible. We will, however, make sure the Council hears all sides of the debate."

The committee is made up of a wide-variety of people with interests and expertise that provide a well-rounded group. Member representation comes from the Animal Humane Society, Knox County Health Department, a retired veterinarian, a pet-store owner, concerned citizens, elected officials and city staff from the police department and administration.

Commenting on today's meeting, Karlin stated, "Our conversation today illustrated the difficulty of the work ahead: finding the appropriate balance between property rights, personal responsibility, and public safety. While the challenge is great, I'm confident that we will develop a number of proposals for council consideration."

While the committee is active it was agreed that public comment representing all sides would be welcome during future committee meetings. The committee seeks to balance the rights and responsibility of animal owners with the rights and desires of those desiring a safer community.



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