TROUBLESHOOTERS: Alleged animal neglect puts neighbors at odds


Peoria Heights, IL (HOI) – A Peoria Heights’ woman has turned to Troubleshooters because she says her neighbor is neglecting his dogs. However, the owner is defending his decision to keep his outside dogs in the his backyard all year round.

Illinois is said to have the best animal protection laws in the county, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Amanda Stokes says it’s still not enough for the two dogs right outside her home.

“I have never seen them off of their chains since the day that they moved in,” said Stokes.

She says her neighbor moved in next door this past summer with his two large breed dogs. Since then, she says they’ve always been outside no matter how hot or how cold it is.

“What’s the point of having animals at this point? They’re basically lawn ornaments. It’s disgusting,” said Stokes.

Once temperatures were below freezing, Stokes says she started calling Peoria County Animal Control, then police, the Mayor, and even Illinois Humane Society as she worried about the dogs health and safety.

“Why waste the time passing a law… if you’re not going to enforce it? It just seems like they don’t care,” said Stokes, citing a 2019 law that allows law enforcement to take custody of a pet they believe is in danger. The new law specifically mentions pets left in extreme hot or cold weather.

Temperatures are below freezing in the final week of January, but the dog owner says their igloos and straw will protect the dogs. He references animal control for this.

“They said the dogs look good. The dogs are healthy they’ve got an igloo, and they got hay, they got water… they got everything, they got food,” said Perry Ratliff.

Owner of the dogs, Perry Ratliff, says Peoria County Animal Control has been to his house three times since the complaints began and he complies with their rules.

Interim Director of Animal Control, Becky Spencer says there are strict conditions for animals to stay outside.

“Really the basics of food, water and shelter. Shelter should have four sides, a roof and a floor. So you can’t just put a dog house on the ground with no floor. Then bedding, it has to be hay or something like wood chips, something that doesn’t hold moisture,” said Spencer.

Spencer adds that the shelter size also matters, it needs to be big enough for the animal to stand and turn around but small enough to retain body heat.

“If an animal is suffering, we’re going to take it,” said Spencer.

But Stokes doesn’t think animal control is taking her seriously. She says other people have called and complained, then animal control has accused them of being her.

“Everybody has the responsibility to say something. If you see something like that, you need to say something because obviously the laws that have been passed are not being enforced and we need people to speak up,” said Stokes.

Stoke says as a dog lover with her pets inside, it’s hard to see her neighbor’s dogs tied outside to a tree.

Animal control says they will help pet owners meet the standards, and taking a dog away is last resort.



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Jenise Rebholz

Jenise Rebholz

Evening Anchor, Heart of Illinois ABC @JeniseRebholzTV

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