Brashinger: Animal control officer a ‘one man show’
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistemail@example.com July 26, 2012 2:46PM
Karen Zobjeck holds Mannie, a mixed-breed rescue dog. She said despite obvious signs of abuse, Mannie will be put up for adoption now that she has determined his temperament makes him a good fit for families with children. | Supplied Photo
Updated: August 30, 2012 6:08AM
Animals in the Lincoln-Way area don’t know it, but they have a guardian angel in Karen Zobjeck, who is in her sixth year as the Frankfort Township Animal Control officer.
Zobjeck’s expertise in domestic and wild animals is surpassed only by her compassion. That translates into “all things bright and beautiful” for township residents, too, because Zobjeck’s main concern is the safety and well-being of animals and residents.
“The best thing when animals are in trouble is for Animal Control to get them because we have all the resources,” she said.
That means Zobjeck can do everything possible to find a lost pet’s home. It begins with checking the neighborhood where a stray dog or cat is originally picked up. If that fails, she takes the animal to the clean, safe township facility on LaPorte Road, where she cross-checks tags on the animal with a database. They also are scanned for microchips.
If that fails, the animal remains in the township’s holding area for seven days. Zobjeck works with the animal to determine which facility will afford it the best adoption possibility.
“People have the opinion that Animal Control will euthanize the animal,” Zobjeck said. “That’s the furthest thing from my mind. Get the animal safe, find the owner or get it to a facility so it can be adopted.”
Zobjeck said besides rescue and shelter agencies such as NAWS and PAWS, many veterinarians help, including the Animal Emergency of Mokena. She also values her “awesome relationship” with local police departments.
“It’s good to know that I have backup,” Zobjeck said.
Because she basically is a “one-woman show,” with kennel help in the afternoon and on weekends, she scrubs floors, rescues animals, fields complaints and does paper work. Zobjeck’s duties may extend to emergency situations not normally serviced by Animal Control. The township’s program does not deal with nuisance wildlife calls, but Zobjeck said if a wild animal or bird is injured or poses a threat to the public, she is qualified to help or she will direct the caller to the appropriate agency.
Zobjeck urges people to avoid situations by covering window wells into which wild animals might fall, resulting in injury or death if they can’t get out. She said simply covering garbage cans eliminates many nuisance animal situations.
To avoid losing a pet, Zobjeck suggests never leaving a dog unattended — even in a fenced yard — tagging and microchipping pets, and spaying and neutering animals to prevent unwanted litters that overburden shelters.
For those struggling to keep a pet during financial hardship, Zobjeck urges residents to call to see what help can be offered so the pet can stay with its family.
Zobjeck said she fields many complaints about barking dogs and dogs running loose, but she’s not always able to deal with them immediately.
“I do care about all residents and animals, but it is only me, so I take the most important issues first,” Zobjeck said. “Keep calling, and I will get back to you.”
Zobjeck also works closely with Will County Animal Control, managed by administrator Leroy Schild and officer Mindy Sasser. Schild said the county services unincorporated areas, working mainly with rabies control and handling complaints about domestic animals. The agency does not handle nuisance wildlife, except in the case of public safety with a sick or injured animal.
For pet identification tags or to make donations, go to Frankfort Township Animal Control, 9434 W. LaPorte Road, Mokena, or call (815) 469-4907. The website is www.frankforttownship.com/animal_control.
Will County Animal Control can be reached at (815) 462-5633 or at www.willcountyillinois.com/DepartmentDirectory/AnimalControl.