Joliet officials seeking to adopt new pet rules

LaSalle resident Tracy Ross, right, provides remarks Nov. 21 during a regular meeting of the Joliet City Council. (Megann Horstead/For The Bugle)

Two proposed ordinances vary in restrictiveness

by Megann Horstead | For The Bugle

Discussion of pet laws dominated a Joliet City Council meeting held Nov. 21, at which point officials were slated to make a decision to amend a series of ordinances to satisfy this aim.

Two proposed ordinances were reviewed, with one serving as a replica of the policy adopted by the City of Chicago that requires pet stores to acquire dogs, which they intend to sell, from rescue operations, public pounds, humane societies, and similar operations; and another model that several residents described as less restrictive in allowing pet stores to obtain dogs from a USDA licensed breeder, a humane society or rescue, or a hobby breeder who is not required to be licensed by the USDA.

More than 10 people approached city officials with remarks during the public comments section.

Councilman Larry Hug wanted to thank everyone who came out to meeting—no matter which side of the argument their on.

“We’re on the same page,” he said. “The disagreement is on the solution.”

Councilman John Gerl shared that sentiment.

“I do recognize the passion of those supporting rescue dogs and that sort of thing, but I do believe that version ‘B’ kind of best reflects and puts in place [measures] eliminating puppy mills and that sort of thing,” he said.

Several residents voiced support for the ordinance that is more restrictive and shared stories encapsulating the evils of puppy mills and the harm they can do to animals.

No one in attendance for the meeting expressed a liking for puppy mills and the dangers they can wreak.

Robert Hernandez, of Joliet, wanted it to be clear that not all pet stores adhere to deceptive practices.

“Every pet that we purchased from a pet store had no health issues, had no psychological issues, and that’s from 1982 to today,” he said. “My brother just recently got his first dog from a shelter. All of his other dogs are purchased at a pet store, and my brother took it hard when his dog, Nostalgia, died a few months ago. [It was] very difficult for him, but he died of natural causes after 17 years. I just believe it’s everybody’s right to have a pro-choice of where they acquire their animal—whether it’s a shelter, a humane society or a pet store. That is our constitutional right to make that decision.”

Tracy Ross, of LaSalle, cast a differing view of pet stores such as the former Furry Babies based out Peru, the location in which she used to serve as an employee.

“As employees, there were required trainings coaching us on how to respond to customers that asked questions, such as ‘This dog appears sick. What’s wrong with it?’ Our stock answer per training … was that these dogs were having just a mere reaction to vaccines.’”

Ross said prior to working at the Peru store, she had little knowledge of the dangers of puppy mills.

“I began to question the origin of the dogs after observing the dogs coming in sick or having serious issues, including cleft palette, pneumonia, intestinal parasites, extremely small dogs less than two pounds and parvo.”

Ross started conducting research to learn more about where the store acquired its animals only to find they were retrieved from puppy mills. She wanted the unethical business practices of Furry Babies, formerly based out of Peru, to be known.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman said she was disappointed with the council’s decision to motion to approve the second ordinance.

“I had hoped that this council would’ve gone with version ‘A,’ like our neighbors did—Romeoville, Crest Hill and especially Chicago,” she said. “Once Chicago won that fight—which was in court for a couple years, and the courts decided that version ‘A’ was the way to go—I am very disappointed this council is only going with version ‘B.’”

A separate pet ordinance prohibiting their sale from any public way, disallowing them from being given away as prizes, and regulating how their transported was also examined and later approved without opposition.

In a 7-1 vote, the council approved the second pet ordinance addressing puppy mills. Quillman cast the lone dissenting vote.

Nepotism in hiring

Also at the meeting, Joliet officials took time to review an ordinance designed to address nepotism.

The matter was recently discussed by members of the city’s Land Use and Legislation Committee.

“The ordinance is great,” Councilman Larry Hug said. “We’ve tweaked it. We need it. Maybe an ordinance like this would’ve kept this misunderstanding that unfortunately caused a problem between us and Crest Hill, so it’s great that we’re tightening this up.”

Hug acknowledged that relatives should not be hired if one is already serving as an elected official and expressed a desire for the ordinance to go further in addressing nepotism.

“I’m very uncomfortable with one of these young men, here, gets out of school, and they come in here, and they get their degree, and they’re an engineer in the city, and 20 years later, their child can’t run because of the sins of the father,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense. That’s backward from an ethics situation.”

Hug wanted to table the matter to consider amending the ordinance to include a strict requirement that a relative employee, as defined by the policy, must fill out a disclosure form.

“I actually came up with a potential amendment to this,” Interim City Manager Marty Shanahan said. “It would disallow what you had mentioned.”

The ordinance, as amended, stipulates that no relatives are to be hired by Joliet after an individual is elected, appointed or selected to serve. It goes on to state that this policy does not apply to relatives who are already employed by the city prior to an individual taking steps to become an elected official.

Hug questioned if Shanahan could make another amendment to require the completion of a disclosure forum.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said all of that would get vetted during the campaign season if such a situation were to arise and went on to say that Shanahan’s amendment would be “appropriate.”

In an 8-0 vote, the Joliet City Council decided to approve the policy as amended.

Round up

A brief recap of action and discussion from the Nov. 21 regular meeting of the Joliet City Council:

Joliet officials tabled a measure allowing for the annexation of eight parcels near the former Silver Cross Hospital located at Maple Road and Hebbard Street. The City Council will consider taking action at its Dec. 5 meeting.

The City of Joliet formed a deal with the City of Crest Hill regarding the installation of traffic signals at the intersection of Gaylord Road and Division Street. The agreement stipulates that the City of Crest Hill is responsible for funding the local share for the engineering and construction costs and the remainder is to be paid for using federal funds from the Surface Transportation Program. It goes on to note that the City of Joliet is required to provide for future maintenance of the traffic signals at the intersection in question.



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