Lost, abandoned, stray animals have new home in Lake County

As a resident of Mundelein, Timothy Sashko said he can speak with authority about the differences between Lake County’s new Animal Care and Control Facility in Libertyville and the old one on Route 83.

“When I walked in here today, I said, ‘Where’s the leaky roof?’” the Lake County Board of Health president said at a ribbon cutting for the new, $3.5 million building on Peterson Road east of Route 45.

Sashko said other problems with the 1970s-era Mundelein structure included the fact that “you couldn’t find the place, and when you did, you couldn’t find the front door.”

All of those issues and more are expected to be addressed with this week’s opening of the 10,732-square-foot brick structure, which includes room for 50 dogs and 50 cats and such amenities as a 3,000-square-foot outdoor exercise area.

Also found on the premises are a grooming/washing room, a 24-hour drop-off site for Lake County Sheriff’s Police, dog kennels with pass-through doors to an exterior kennel, and a room for exotic animals, which on Friday included a quaker parakeet and a rooster that was picked up from the Lake Villa Police Department.

Health Department Executive Director Tony Beltran told a gathering of more than two dozen local legislators and animal-control staff members that the facility represents “an opportunity for us to provide a humane environment for animals, especially when they are lost and abandoned.”

Beltran added that the Mundelein location “had a lot of problems, including temperature control, break-in issues and safety issues,” while the new facility was designed with room to accommodate programs like pet vaccinations.

“One of the things we do is prevent the spread of communicable diseases, (so) this fits into the mission of the health department, and that’s protecting the health of our residents,” said Beltran, adding that the county provided temporary shelter for 1,300 animals last year alone.

Animals that are not claimed are eventually passed to private shelters like Orphans of the Storm in Riverwoods.

Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor attended the ceremony with his dog Hercules, who was adopted from a rescue society. Lawlor said he looks at the facility as a better environment for county residents searching for lost pets.

“In Lake County, our pets are not just animals. They’re extensions of our families,” Lawlor said. “This is a great, bright place where people can come and, hopefully, reclaim their pets.”

The building sits on a five-acre plot of land that was purchased in 2012 for $475,000. Included on the site was a one-time commercial structure that was redeveloped for $600,000 into a behavioral health outpatient and mental care facility for the health department.

Animals began moving in this week from Mundelein while the county decides what to do with the old facility, which operated as a private kennel before being acquired by the health department in 1995.

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