JOLIET – Joliet will hire an animal compliance coordinator to follow up on dog attacks and other pet disturbances in the city.
The part-time position was approved with barely a comment Tuesday by the the city council. But the new job is a reminder of a controversy that seethed a year ago as residents demanded that the city do something to get vicious dogs under control.
The board voted unanimously to approve the job that will be filled later.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman was part of a committee that held several meetings as an animal ordinance was revised to clarify and toughen procedures for vicious dogs and their owners.Residents complained that the city’s procedures for handling vicious dogs were too confusing and too lax.
They also said that too many times the same vicious dogs would terrorize a neighborhood because the city did not follow up on incidents.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said after the meeting that one of the top priorities for the animal compliance coordinator will be to follow up on incidents.
“Police will get called, but unless something’s happening when they get there, there’s no real follow-up,” O’Dekirk said. “This person will follow up.”
O’Dekirk in his State of the City address in January 2016, when the vicious dog complaints were peaking, announced his intention to hire an enforcement officer to handle animal problems.
Animal control services in Joliet are provided by Joliet Township Animal Control, which picks up vicious and loose dogs. But city police typically are the first called when a dog is loose or attacking. And the city holds hearings to determine fines and whether dogs should be taken from their owners.
According to the job description, the animal compliance coordinator will be a liaison to Joliet Township Animal Control. The person will follow up on incidents during and after hearings to ensure that dog restrictions are followed and act as an advocate for residents in the enforcement of animal control ordinances.
The job pays between $15 and $20 an hour. The compliance coordinator will be an employee of the mayor’s office. O’Dekirk said he expected to hire someone in a matter of weeks.
O’Dekirk said he expects to name appointments to a new commission to study future water scarcities at the next city council meeting on March 7.
The mayor announced his plan to form the commission at the Feb. 7 meeting after hearing a report that projected the aquifer that provides water to Joliet could begin to be depleted in 15 to 20 years.
O’Dekirk had planned to make the appointments Tuesday but said he needed more time to fill all nine positions.