PEORIA -- The city and county of Peoria and the animal shelter, PAWS, have proposed an amendment that would allow the shelter to impound pets not vaccinated or registered. The County has sent it back to committee, and the Peoria Council will address it August 28.
Doris Muller, an animal advocate with Peoria Area Voices for Animals, sent the following e-mail to the Peoria City Council:
"RE: Proposed amendment to Pet Law
"I support strong animal laws that protect society from dangerous animals. Likewise, I support strong laws that protect animals from dangerous or abusive people.
"The current proposed amendment to the pet laws is not fashioned to do either. Rather it will tend to punish many animals for the sins of their irresponsible owners.
"I greatly sympathize with PAWS staff whose heart-wrenching work is to clean up the results of the criminal-minded animal abusers, the back yard breeders, the generally irresponsible pet owners, and the chronic law breakers.
"I'm sure PAWS Director Lauren Malmberg and others do a lot of soul-searching and research while trying to create laws to get the public to be more law abiding. Unfortunately, these types will always be with us. So creating laws that victimize the innocent, the defenseless, and in many cases traumatize young owners and create greater hardships for the underprivileged is a bad idea because the law scoffers just get more animals while the animals and the tax payers foot the bill.
"This type of law reminds me of the recent slaughter of over 50,000 dogs in a province in China in order to control rabies after several cases were reported. Certainly we do not want to be identified in this manner.
"While the current Peoria proposed amendment is not as brutal as the China remedy, it has the potential to greatly increase the need to kill more innocent animals that, for various reasons, will not be reclaimed.
"There is no easy answer to this out of control problem, but I would like to see repeat offenders barred from pet ownership, and to have it posted in the newspaper like any other violation of law.
"Please don't victimize the defenseless and the innocent. Please reject this proposed amendment.
"Thank you for considering my concerns."
Muller's letter suggests many interesting issues:
1. The lack of a no-kill policy in central Illinois, which if it were adopted would bring in private grant funding for other services.
2. The continued victimization of the poor by fines that keep poor and now seizing their pets, which may be the only comfort they (and their children) have in a harsh world.
3. The need for expanded not-for-profit spay/neuter, vaccination and medical care programs for pets with low income owners.