Pets and neglect

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Pets and neglect

Postby Marina » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:24 am ... 14.article

Foster families could face ban on owning some pets

January 14, 2009

Sun-Times News Group
The death of a 4-year-old mauled by at least one Rottweiler owned by his foster family could lead to a crackdown on how the state regulates the care of foster children in homes with animals.

Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-Des Plaines) said the Illinois House committee that oversees the Department of Children and Family Services might consider tough legislation outlawing dangerous dogs in foster homes.

“If you want to be a foster parent, forgoing a dog could be it,’’ Mulligan said. “The primary thing you want to do is err on the side of protection of the child.”

DCFS officials were awaiting results of an independent inquiry by a Child Death Review Team before deciding to make any changes.

Agency spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the teams review all serious injuries and deaths to children, even those not in foster care.

“We look to their recommendations for any changes that can effectively prevent these tragedies,’’ he said.

Alex Angulo died Sunday afternoon at his foster family’s Southwest Side home after he let himself out of the house and was attacked by one or both of the Rottweilers owned by the family.

The dogs were kept outside. An adult living in the house was using a snowblower in the back at the time of the attack, police said.

Alex was in the care of a 77-year-old woman in the home. But he was scheduled to move this week into the home of another family who planned to adopt him, according to court records. Alex had been in several foster homes since a week after he was born.

DCFS caseworkers were aware the animals were in the house and had recently told the family to have the dogs’ shots -- which were good through last Oct. 31 -- updated, Marlowe said. The caseworker also had been assured that the dogs were kept outside and that the child would not be unsupervised.

The Cook County Public Guardian also on Tuesday called for more stringent controls over how foster families with animals keep a child safe, saying it’s too easy for small children to accidentally provoke animals.

“There should be a whole protocol for issues of pets in general,’’ Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris said.

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