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DeKalb County Animal Control picks up strays, enforces Animal Control Act

DeKalb County Animal Control Warden Jenny Eisman lifts a stray boxer mix from the back of her work van to be examined Monday at the Malta Veterinary Hospital.
DeKalb County Animal Control Warden Jenny Eisman lifts a stray boxer mix from the back of her work van to be examined Monday at the Malta Veterinary Hospital.

When a rural Waterman resident recently found herself with an injured, painfully thin stray dog, she called DeKalb County Animal Control.

Warden Jenny Eisman picked up the docile boxer mix and took him to the Malta Veterinary Clinic for treatment.

“His leg was not broken, but he was hobbling and very skinny,” Eisman said. “We looked in our logs to see if a dog matching his description had been reported missing, but he doesn’t have a tag and he’s not microchipped, so we don’t know where he came from.”

Eisman said the stray is a nice dog, with injuries that are not too serious. She said he can be treated and then sent to a shelter for adoption or to a foster home to await adoption, if he’s not claimed.

Senior Warden Dan Berres clarified that his department does not provide animals for adoption. After being impounded for seven days, the animals are turned over to rescue groups or shelters, which in turn find homes for them.

Eisman said last year they picked up about 248 dogs and cats, and only 104 were claimed.

“It’s difficult to say how many calls we actually go on in a year, because we are able to resolve some quickly and the animal doesn’t get impounded,” Eisman said.

The department doesn’t have its own shelter. Strays are impounded at either the Malta Veterinary Hospital or Sandwich Veterinary Hospital. Fees are charged when owners claim their dog.

While wardens hope all the strays they pick up are either claimed or adopted, some don’t reach happy endings. Dogs that are too badly injured, too sick or too aggressive may be euthanized.

Picking up strays is just part of what the animal control wardens do on a daily basis. Berres said they also patrol the county, although their primary function is to prevent rabies by enforcing the Illinois Animal Control Act.

“We try to be quite visible,” Berres said.

Berres and Eisman are the only full-time employees of the department, along with one part-time employee.

Eisman said the county has 14,102 dogs registered. Each dog that gets a rabies vaccination, which is required by state law, is registered with the county and receives a tag to prove it has been vaccinated.

Dogs not vaccinated locally, or those adopted from area shelters, can get tags with proof of vaccination at the DeKalb County Health Department, 2550 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb.

“We have no idea how many dogs are out there that aren’t vaccinated,” Eisman said.

Owners with small dogs that stay indoors or farm animals sometimes don’t register their animals.

Berres said occasionally they are called for cases of animal neglect or abuse, but animal cruelty cases are rare.

“We do a lot of education in those cases,” Berres said. “Maybe the dog just needs better shelter, or we urge them to take care of the animal’s fleas. Usually contact and education takes care of the problem.”

Because there are no laws mandating vaccination of cats, Berres said they don’t pick up cats, unless they can tell the animal is very sick or has bitten someone.

“There are organizations that work to spay and neuter feral cats,” he said.

Occasionally, they get calls for injured wildlife or animals that have gotten inside a home.

“I liberated a squirrel from an attic the other day,” Berres said. “And Jenny [Eisman] got a couple of birds out of a chimney recently.”

Wild animals are released, if they appear to be healthy. If they are injured and can be rehabilitated, they may be delivered to an agency like Oaken Acres Wildlife Center.

To report a stray dog or for more information, call animal control at 815-748-2427 or visit

Rabies vaccinations

All dogs are required, by state law, to be vaccinated for rabies. According to the DeKalb County Animal Control website, these fees apply:

• One-year registration for an altered dog, $17.

* One-year registration for an unaltered dog, $34.

• Three-year registration for an altered dog, $42.

• Three-year registration for an unaltered dog, $84.

Unaltered dogs (those that have not been spayed or neutered) that cannot be altered because of medical reasons (as determined by a veterinarian) will pay the altered rate. Puppies, 9 months and younger, also pay the altered rate.

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