Joliet Township animal control officer Bryan Jones received very bad news last week: the 14 year veteran was fired from his job for coming to the defense of a shelter dog that had been labeled as dangerous.
Having worked with dogs for so many years, Jones said he was convinced that in this case, the label did not fit. He maintained that the dog was specifically afraid of just one vet technician at the center, and he was concerned that the dog would be put down for what he believed was an isolated incident. He first noticed a “caution: I may bite” sign on the dog’s cage at the end of February: after worrying for days that the dog would die, Jones took it home with him on March 2. He did not complete an application or notify any of the shelter’s staff before doing so.
Township Animal Control Director Sarah Gimbel was made aware of the situation and sent Jones a text on the 5th of March asking if he had the Chihuahua. He replied in the affirmative. Jones had the week off and spent it caring for the dog. On March 9, Gimbel called him and demanded that he bring the dog back. He refused.
When town officials were later notified that Jones had taken the animal, they gave him the option of quitting or being fired, and asked him to return the dog. Jones told them they could keep the job, but that he had no intention of turning the dog over only to see it put to sleep. Knowing the fate that awaited it, Jones was unwilling to negotiate with the town at the expense of a life.
That steadfast determination has paid off. On Monday, township officials decided to let him keep the dog.
“Our position at this point is not to pursue the return of the dog. We feel he will take good care of the dog,” township attorney Franklin Burkey said. “He has the dog. We’re not going to have a back and forth on it. We’re going to bring it to an end.”
Jones, who has named the dog Chewy, was understandably relieved when he heard the news.
“Wow, cool. I’m just excited now,” Jones said. “He’s been doing great. This will be good. It’s sad that it had to end this way, but at least the animal’s safe.”
Burkey said the township will send Jones his final pay minus adoption fees. The town will also reimburse Jones for neutering and microchipping costs, services that the center typically provides free of charge for every adoption.