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Woodford County Sheriff's Office will pick up animal control duties

The Woodford County Courthouse in Eureka, Ill.
Tim Shelley
Peoria Public Radio
The Woodford County courthouse in Eureka.

Woodford County took another step toward improving its animal control efforts Tuesday evening.

Board members unanimously approved nearly $800,000 in new equipment and staff.

The sheriff’s office recommended hiring two new deputies and purchasing two new cab trucks fitted with cages to safely transport animals, among other patrol equipment.

At the meeting, Chief Deputy Dennis Tipsword said the deputies would provide animal control services as needed.

“We’re estimating that this is going to be about a 50% animal control job and about a 50% deputy job,” Tipsword said.

The concern for animal safety rose after a therapy kitten died in the department’s care. According to a 2023 federal lawsuit filed against the county, the kitten lived in Eureka’s Razor Zone Salon. In late March, the kitten’s owner alleged that then-Animal Control Administrator Tim Abney took the cat, claiming it bit someone and needed to be euthanized and tested for rabies.

A 10-day bite period is required by law when an apparently healthy animal bites someone. The lawsuit is still working its way through the courts.

Should the county follow the recommendations from the sheriff's office, the estimated total cost is about $790,000 over three years.

The plan sets aside about $200,000 per year for deputy salaries plus benefits. An additional $150,000 will be spent in the first year to purchase trucks, cages, and other equipment, under the proposal.

The county approved the proposal as presented, with the condition the costs in the first year do not exceed what is estimated.

Mike Smith is an correspondent with WCBU in Peoria. He joined the station in 2023.