Chairman issues statement on animal control

County commissioners meeting held Friday

The county’s animal control program was addressed at last week’s regular meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners.

The meeting was Friday morning, May 13, at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro.

“Wags and Wine”

During the meeting, it was noted that a “Wags and Wine” evening is planned at a local winery which will promote Union County animal control.

“Wags and Wine” is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, May 20, at StarView Vineyards near Cobden.

Dogs from Union County animal control which are looking for new homes will be at the event and available for adoption. Monetary and supply donations will be accepted at the event.

County Board Chairman Reads Statement

During last Friday morning’s meeting, Union County Board of Commissioners chairman Max Miller read a prepared statement about the animal control program. The statement follow:

I have overseen animal control through 2 previous administrators. There have been many issues and changes under the direction of the previous administrators. 

I am confident animal control has improved each year and continues to do so. We strive to always move forward with improvements. 

I have read the social media posts and emails sent. I, nor anyone else here, will respond to social media platforms. 

Social media can manipulate readers with pictures and words. It is unfortunate but there have been staged photos and verbiage used on social media for what we conclude to be a personal vendetta toward current employees and board members. 

We have firsthand knowledge the former employee that took the picture of the dog in the muddy pool water was the one who put the dog in the pool solely for the purpose of staging the photo for Facebook. 

A complaint was recently filed with OSHA. This complaint was filed concerning the hazards of a storage unit which was under the previous 2 administrators as well. 

The County had already taken action to clean this storage unit and had a dumpster on site. We finished cleaning the storage container and sent pictures to OSHA. We then received a letter from OSHA stating they have closed the complaint. 

Complaint(s) were made to the Department of Ag as well and 2 weeks ago an unscheduled inspection was conducted at AC. The inspector found ZERO violations with regards to the care of the animals.

I can assure you all animals are being properly taken care of. We currently have some of the best kennel techs the County has ever had. 

With that being said, if you were to come out to animal control at 8 in the morning, you are going to find kennels and litter boxes are a mess. It’s what happens when animals need to go to the bathroom after hours. Then the kennel techs arrive and everything is cleaned up again.

We are not an adoption facility. We do not get to pick the cute little dogs that are easy to adopt out and look great. 

We are animal control. We take possession of the aggressive dogs, the mistreated dogs, the malnourished dogs and the ones that have been abused by their owners. 

So when you are out at animal control you are going to see underweight dogs, dogs with wounds and dogs that are timid and scared. 

I take this personal as does everyone else here. Implying I do not care about animals is hurtful. 

I just had to put to sleep my Schnauzer after 13 years battling several diseases. We buried him in a casket in a pet cemetery. 

I would appreciate not being told on your social media platforms that I and others do not care about the animals. AC is monitored on a daily basis.

 If we believed animals were being mistreated, we would take immediate action. Are human mistakes made due to time or other circumstances? Yes, but they are not intentional nor mistreating animals. Again, the County board strives to always move toward continued improvements.

The AC facilities have much to be desired. The current board is aggressively working toward a new AC building to be built by late fall if everything falls in line. 

The new building, along with equipment, etc. that has never been available before will be instrumental in continuing the best care for animals. Please be patient, watch, and be a part of the progress. 

Do not be swept up in the social media sabotaging by former disgruntled employees, who chose to leave on their own accord. 

These misleading posts have led to our employees being cursed at, called horrible names and now even physically being threatened. These threats of violence must stop immediately. ‘ If they do not stop they will be turned over to the Sheriff’s office. 

Again, we appreciate you coming to this meeting. We can all work together to make AC a better facility for the animals and workers. We encourage each of you, to volunteer at AC and contribute alongside our employees to love and care for the animals.

(No names of any former employees were shared during Friday morning’s meeting.)

Former Employee Addresses Issue

Following last week’s county board meeting, former Union County animal control kennel technician issued the following statement:

Dear Union County Residents,

I made a public post on my social media on April 25, 2022 in regards to conditions at Union County Animal Control. 

I did this socially, because I made multiple attempts to reach out to The County Administrator about my concerns, which in turn I received either excuses, was ignored and I was told how disappointed they were in me because I reached out to the Department of Ag with my concerns.

First and foremost, I never staged any photo!!! The photo that is being talked about, I did not even take, a volunteer did and I can prove the time and date the photo was taken. 

To be accused of that breaks my heart and is against everything I stand for in Animal Welfare. I have a duty to care for these animals and I intended on fulfilling that duty.

Second, this goes so much further than a couple of former employees. This is not a personal vendetta. This is all about the animals in UCAC care, their safety, and their welfare along with the safety of the employees and the condition of the facility.

During my employment at UCAC, multiple community members complained about questionable practices in regards to found animals, citations and the conditions of the facility. 

Volunteers quit working with UCAC due to the way the current Administration treated them. Rescues we worked with had concerns after receiving sick animals and false medical records. I personally had to answer many of the Animal Rescue Networkers questions, due to the fact they could not get the information from the Administrator. 

Adopters have complained about not receiving full medical records upon adoption even though they were asked for. I can prove each and every one of these statements.

In conclusion, none of the County Board has ever requested to sit down and talk to me, or other previous employees in regards to this matter. Being accused of such disgrace, goes against my character and everything I believe in. Mediation is needed to bring a lot of this to light and the truth be told. 

Sincerely, Sara Yarbrough

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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