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Former Woodford animal control administrator claims immunity from allegations in federal lawsuit

A gavel rests on a judge's bench in a blurry courtroom. The text "WCBU Courts" sits on top of that photo.

The former Woodford County Animal Control administrator says he's entitled to immunity from claims in a federal lawsuit filed after a kitten was "killed and beheaded" for rabies testing in March.

In the lawsuit, Sarah Keim alleges Tim Abney seized the cat, named Kiki, on March 23, claiming it had bitten someone and needed to be killed and tested for rabies immediately.

Keim said the cat was a rescued stray living at the Razor Zone Salon in Eureka.

In a response filed in federal court, Abney denied most of Keim's claims and allegations. He said the cat was voluntarily given to him by the owner of the Eureka salon after it bit someone. He said he then took the cat, which wasn't vaccinated for rabies, to Associated Veterinary Clinic, where it was euthanized and later tested at the University of Illinois. Tests came back negative for rabies.

Abney claims that while a 10-day observation period by a licensed veterinarian is required by state statute after an apparently healthy cat bites someone, it didn't apply in this instance.

Abney said Woodford County didn't provide him with training regarding his duties or legal issues that could crop up, including 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

He said his actions were performed as a county employee in accordance with state law, and claims immunity from the counts in the civil lawsuit naming him.

The Eureka Police Department investigated the incident and forwarded its findings to the Woodford County State's Attorney's Office for review. No charges were filed.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.