Kane County Animal Control is a real success story

Kane County Animal Control is a real success story

After every election, a good political friend of mine likes to encourage folks to “give back their enemies.” In other words, “It’s over, so you may as well move on.” When you consider the tit-for-tat game that generally permeates all of Kane County politics, it really is sage advice, especially for someone of my ilk.
Now, I really don’t want to disappoint my friend, but I also believe there’s a big difference between going Game of Thrones on someone, and setting the record straight. so taking the inherent voter ADHD into account, there are far too many local politicians who reverse course because they figure no one will remember the direction in which they were originally headed.
A perfect example of what we’re talking about is Kane County Animal control. Because under former Chairman Karen McConnaughay’s regime, it was a utter disaster.  KC Animal Control
It all started with an unqualified crony director who made $92,000 year. Contracts were awarded only to folks with the appropriate pull and it was virtually impossible to adopt a pet. When one rescue group attempted to do just that, the adoption was botched so badly, it led to the director’s resignation.
Then we moved to an interim director who also had no prior experience and promptly oversaw citations being sent to people who’s pets had long since been inoculated. It took a slew of $27,000 temporaries to relieve that 60,000 file data entry backlog.
And their numbers always were a bit suspect too.
The icing on the cake was, because they hadn’t collected those fees, the supposedly self-sufficient department couldn’t make their 2012 $153,000 annual mortgage payment and had to beg the board for those funds.
Finally backed into a corner, McConnaughay and then Health Department Director, Paul Kuehnert, were forced to hire a director who actually had some AC credentials. But after sabotaging her at every turn, she quit after four short months.
Fast forward to current Chairman Chris Lauzen’s still short two-year tenure and, to the chagrin of some suddenly diligent board members with very short memories, he hired political ally Rob Sauceda to run Animal Control. And the about face has been nothing short of stunning.
The phones are being answered, the bills are being collected, and the mortgage woes are a thing of the past. Costs are way down. Staff morale is much higher. Pet’s are regularly being adopted and the place is so clean you could eat off the bleepin’ floors.
The chocolate frosting on that cake is, armed with a tip from a concerned citizen, Kane County Animal Control just saved more than 100 mistreated animals from a rescue/petting zoo owner who clearly got in over her head.
And Sauceda’s doing it for about two-thirds of what that original director got.
So what I’m basically saying is, it took Lauzen and Sauceda less than two years to right an eight-year nightmare and completely repair a severely damaged departmental reputation.
But here’s the thing. Sauceda is up for re-appointment in November and I guarantee you the same county board members who aided, abetted and willingly signed on to that previous fiasco, will be the first ones shriek and howl about political hires.
During the original Sauceda hiring kerfuffle, I asked one of those very board members exactly what had incited their sudden spasm of due diligence? His response was, “Do we really have to back there again?”
I shrugged it off then, but my current response is this; “Yes we do. Especially at election time.”

7 thoughts on “Kane County Animal Control is a real success story

  1. From the perspective of an area veterinarian, Kane County Animal Control is still a disaster. Getting a response out of animal control to actually control stray animals is virtually impossible. They pass the buck continually to area police departments. If you call animal control with a report of a stray animal anywhere in the county, they will refer you immediately to the city police departments or the County Sheriff. The police have literally laughed when asked about getting help from KC Animal Control, and we get frequent complaints from clients trying to get help from Animal Control. This has not changed at all in the last two years.
    Beyond that, KC Animal Control requires area veterinarians (private business owners) to enforce county laws. If an animal without a valid rabies vaccine bites someone, the pet is required to be quarantined for 10 days. One would expect that since the county requires the quarantine, that the county would be doing the quarantine. This is most definitely not the case. When the new facility was built, they made sure to include an expensive brick paver driveway, but neglected to build no-contact quarantine cages, so they refuse to do animal quarantining. Instead they expect area veterinarians to quarantine dangerous animals, at significant risk to our staff, even if we have no client-patient relationship with the owner. Animal Control has only gotten belligerent when questioned why an animal control facility wasn’t built to actually do its job.
    Finally, most area veterinarians do all of the paperwork involving rabies tags and licensing of pets for their clients in Kane County, which saves Kane County Animal Control significant time and money. If we ceased to do the processing of the county tags, I suspect Kane County AC would once again have a major backlog of paperwork, and be running at a loss.
    Kane County AC has done a great job with public relations in the last two years. They are successfully blanketing social media, and the news with happy AC stories, but beneath it all, they are still not capable of actually doing the job of Animal Control. Kane County politics at their finest.

  2. After the original construction fiasco a generous campaign donor to the county chairman took over the construction project. Charging well over one million dollars for a rural pole barn style building was misguided.
    Even better crony hiring (as it is reported that Robert Sauceda’s background is in insurance or elections) may have been credible in the Clerk’s office. With no veterinary background the county still has to rely on area veterinary experience. Sauceda doing an admirable job but the report above should be respected and taken into consideration.
    Crony hiring still is alive and well under the Lauzen administration despite his personal campaign commitment to do things differently.
    If the idea is to support crony hiring in this administration as being more valid, sincere or credible your point is well taken. But the fact remains that the current chairman’s pledge to end it remains is thriving under this administration as well.

  3. Dear Kane,
    (I really have to resolve the anonymity issue here because I know exactly who this person is.) But for now let’s move forward as if it doesn’t matter.
    Prior to this gig, the best you could say about Rob Sauced and Chairman Lauzen was they were political allies. When you consider the incestuous cesspool Kane County Politics can be, that’s really not setting the bar too high.
    At that point, I was closer to Chris Lauzen than Rob Sauceda was.
    But for argument’s sake, let’s say the Sauceda hire is patronage. When Bill Daley was on Left, Right and You, he made an excellent point when he said, “Not all patronage is bad.”
    And I’ve said the same thing in my columns. Eighty percent of all open jobs are filled by someone who somebody else “knew.” That’s why networking is so important when you’re unemployed. The question is, can Rob do the job? And the answer is, yes he can!
    That’s the difference between this County Chairman, and the last one.

  4. We have decided that it is time to adopt a dog. The staff has been very cordial, helpful and we are one step closer to making someone part of our family. My only experience has been recent and we are pleased with the results. The pettiness of the politicos is shameful. I have only read about the past administration and the incompetency of the KCAC prior to the Lauzen administration. What a mess.
    As far as Area Vets comments, Animal control officers in both Aurora and Elgin have jurisdiction within the borders of their municipalities. smaller towns like St Charles rely on KCAC. Even in larger communities in DuPage and Cook, the Animal Control Officers rely on private vets and they are compensated. So this is not something out of the ordinary.
    As for the previous KC Chair, KM has been an effective state senator with her major legislative accomplishment was getting the fine lowered in construction areas when there are no construction workers. Guess low information voters aren’t only Chicagoans!

  5. Dear Conservative,
    Though I love your commentary, you might want to talk to the fine folks at the Grand Victoria about Ms. McConnaughay. I’m sure they’ll tell you that she’s been very effective in trying to shake them down for donations.

  6. Before election time , people need to talk to the local rescues that work with Kane. If you want an honest opinion from a group of people that have only the best interest of the animals in mind.

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