Local animal control officers want to carry guns

Tools

Reporter - Kendall Downing

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. - Animal control officers in a local county want to carry guns while on the job.

Right now, all animal control officers in Williamson County, Illinois can carry is a control stick and mace. Last month, a pit bull mauled an officer and bit him several times.

A good samaritan stepped in and shot the dog to death, stopping the attack. That prompted the agency to make their request.

But it may open the county up to liability they may not be willing to take.

It's hard to believe a dog's seemingly friendly face can turn in an instant.

"Carrying a gun is like any other tool you need to do your job," said Jim Marlo, Williamson County Commissioner.

Marlo backs the plan to arm animal control officers. He said it's a safety issue. The officers are charged with protecting the public.

"It's the last-ditch effort, and I want to make sure they have the tools necessary," said Marlo.

But Commissioner Brent Gentry said he isn't sold on the proposal.

"My gut tells me that it's probably not a good idea. My heart tells me it is a good idea," said Gentry, "We have to look at all options."

If officers get the right to tote a gun, they'd have to undergo 40 hour firearms training, just like police.

Commissioners are floating the idea of issuing them tasers.

But those with animal control told Local 6 a taser may not be enough to stop a dog in attack mode.

The county is consulting with the state's attorney and their insurance agency to get formal opinions.

"It's our job to look into this and make sure we're doing absolutely what's right," said Gentry.

Commissioners could take a vote on the issue as soon as July.

Animal control officers in Williamson County refused to talk on camera about the issue.

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