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Alligators in McHenry County?

(Daniel J. Murphy – )
Justin O'Brian, 12, of Crystal Lake looks at pictures of animals rescued by McHenry County Animal Control on Tuesday afternoon at Prairie Grove Junior High School in Crystal Lake. Animal control officer Kara Plonczynski visited with students in the school's Canine Club who recently raised $100.

PRAIRIE GROVE – Caitlin Schuett, 14, was stunned to learn that McHenry County Animal Control has had to catch exotic animals such as alligators.

“Where in the world do people get alligators?” Schuett of Crystal Lake asked Kara Plonczynski of Animal Control during Tuesday’s Canine Club after-school meeting.

“Some alligators are legal to own [with proper permits], believe it or not,” Plonczynski said.

Members of the Canine Club at Prairie Grove Junior High, 3223 Route 176 in Prairie Grove, learn about more than just dogs.

Several students said they were surprised to learn that McHenry County Animal Control officers deal with more than dogs, cats and birds.

Plonczynski, the Animal Control volunteer coordinator and health educator, said cases involving iguanas, pigs, deer, snakes and alligators are among the less-typical kinds of animals that officers have encountered.

“We once had a peacock running at large in Crystal Lake,” she said.

But besides catching strays and animals that may pose a threat to people, Animal Control works with the animal shelter to find homes for dogs and cats, Plonczynski said.

The Canine Club, which formed in September, has about 10 students. Their aim is to raise awareness about bite prevention and responsible pet ownership, said Cheryl Trevithick, school secretary and group adviser.

Plonczynski advised students to beware of stray dogs and avoid dog bites by not making sudden moves or loud noises.

“Don’t go running or screaming,” she said. “That can get them anxious and excited. ... Stay still. Be a tree. Be a log.”

In two weeks recently, the club’s students collected $100.10 throughout the school to benefit the county’s animal shelter program, Trevithick said.

Students presented the donation to Plonczynski before she offered a brief summary about the Animal Control division and fielded questions.

“You will make lots of animals happy at the shelter,” she said.


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