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State ag department fines Barn on Baseline, closes case

December 20, 2018

GENOA – The Barn on Baseline has paid a $500 fine to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, closing the case regarding Bert, a chihuahua found to be neglected by the animal shelter.

A Freedom of Information Act response from the ag department sent to Daily Chronicle on Tuesday said the Genoa animal shelter at 16173 Base Line Road was fined $500 for violating the Animal Welfare Act, which was paid by the shelter Nov. 19.

The action comes after Drew Alexander of Sycamore filed a complaint about the conditions at the animal shelter after his girlfriend, Katy Schertz of Sycamore, adopted a sick chihuahua named Bert from Barn on Baseline on June 15. Agriculture department documents said the shelter violated state law by not disclosing previous adoption information for Bert at the time Schertz adopted him.

The chihuahua was adopted by another family May 23 but brought back June 1 because it ended up not being a good match, Shoaf had said in May. The state department documents said the dog was returned to Barn on Baseline on that date, because there was a concern the dog did not want to eat.

The documents also said two bulldogs appeared to be thin in appearance when agriculture department investigators observed several animals in the Genoa facility.

“The respondent was aware that ‘Bert’ and the two bulldogs were underweight,” the documents said, citing 225 ILCS 065/3.5 of the Animal Welfare Act. “However, there is no record that these dogs were provided with veterinary care to address this issue prior to the complaint.”

Denise Albert, spokeswoman for the state department, declined additional comment beyond details that could be found in the FOIA request response on Dec. 12 and again Thursday. She said the state department does not offer additional comment on specific cases.

Ida McCarthy, the Illinois director for the Companion Animal Protection Society, said the organization she’s part of has been trying to get animals out of Barn on Baseline and then adopted to other families. In her experience working with the state department for about a decade, she said, action like this against an animal shelter is rare.

“They only do something if it’s really bad,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said she and Alexander are filing complaints with the state department and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office regarding another dog, an adult black lab named Bandit, under Shoaf’s watch at the shelter.

“She’s been doing this for so long that she thinks she can get away with it,” McCarthy said. “And that’s not right.”

According to Illinois law, an administrative fine of $500 is imposed on any person or entity that has been found in violation of the Animal Welfare Act for the first time. For the second violation in three years after the first violation, they are fined $1,000, and a third violation in three years results in a $2,500 fine.

Mark Ernst, Illinois state veterinarian and bureau chief for the Illinois Bureau for Animal Welfare, had said in July the state first conducts a facilities inspection and then investigates the complaint that is submitted, and both are unannounced. He had said penalties that may result from potential violations could range from fines to shutting down the shelter.

Ernst did not return a request for additional comment from Daily Chronicle.

Roberta Shoaf, who runs Barn on Baseline, said Dec. 12 she could not confirm whether or not the case regarding the animal shelter has been closed or what findings resulted from the case.

“I have not heard anything regarding a final outcome,” Shoaf said Dec. 12.

Albert said Dec. 12 it’s her understanding the shelter was aware that the docket had been closed via written correspondence. She said she did not have a date on which the correspondence was sent to the shelter.

When asked about her initial response to the case being closed Dec. 12 and the administrative fine being paid Nov. 19, Shoaf provided additional comment Thursday.

“We paid an administrative fine because the staff member who adopted out the dog was not aware that the dog had been adopted out before, so she could not provide that information,” she said.

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