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County hears of animal situation

Animal control reports on Arlington dogs, horses to county board

PRINCETON — A judge with the Illinois Department of Agriculture has ruled dogs and horses taken from a rural Arlington property are to be kept impounded by the county of Bureau.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Bureau County Board in Princeton, Bureau County Animal Control Officer Scott Robbins reported on last week’s Illinois Department of Agriculture hearing into the rural Arlington situation. The owner of animals, Dan Labounty, has 30 days in which to appeal the judge’s ruling, Robbins said.

Giving background into the rural Arlington situation, Robbins said he got a call on Feb. 11 about the apparent lack of care of beagles and horses on the Labounty property. The next day, he and a Bureau County Sheriff’s deputy went to the property to investigate and found out no one was currently feeding the dogs. Robbins then took a veterinarian with him to assess the situation. On Feb. 19, Robbins took a Department of Agriculture investigator to the property to give his professional opinion. During this time, he was also in contact with the Bureau County State’s Attorney’s office, Robbins said.

The decision was made to give Labounty a notice of “owners’ duties,” which included the proper feeding and adequate shelter of animals. Labounty was given 24 hours to address the concerns. When that didn’t happen, Robbins impounded 13 dogs from the property on Feb. 21 and placed them in control of the Bureau County Animal Control office. The seven horses remained on the property but were placed under the care of the county, Robbins said.

Labounty appealed that action to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which resulted in last week’s hearing in Springfield, Robbins said. The animals will remain in the control of the county at least for 30 more days through the appeals process time, he said.

When asked about the initial condition of the animals, Robbins said the animals were rated or scored by a veterinarian and all scored in the “average” condition, meaning they weren’t in great condition, but they weren’t starving either. Someone had been feeding the animals before he got there, he said.

One of the horses is now getting penicillin shots and daily eye ointment to clear up an infection around the eye, Robbins said. Labounty had told him the horse had injured its eye last summer from a tree branch, Robbins added.

Board members also questioned the exact number of beagles which were on the Labounty property.

When he initially went to the rural Arlington property, there were 20 beagle dogs outside as well as seven horses, Robbins said. When he went back, there were 13 beagles. He learned later there was also a mother dog and pups in the house, but he never saw those dogs. They are now missing, Robbins said.

Robbins said there is a legal investigation into what happened to the other dogs. The county is responsible for those animals as well, he said.

Board member Loretta Volker also questioned how many of the beagles and/or horses were registered with papers and certification. Since the animals are in the control of the county and its care, the county should know the value of the animals, she said.

He assumed the owner has papers for the beagles, since Labounty had trophies from various dog shows, but he (Robbins) had not seen those papers.

Board member Kristi Warren also questioned whether the judge’s ruling prohibited Labounty from having animals in the future.

Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann said the ruling does not affect Labounty from future ownership of animals.

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