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Oliver: Owners must be vigilant to keep pets safe

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013 7:58 a.m. CDT

The caller on the other end of the line on Friday clearly was upset, his voice catching to stifle sobs.

As a fellow pet owner, I soon understood why Bob Jones of McHenry had been crying.

His beloved 8-pound miniature pinscher, Shadow, had died two days earlier when a neighbor’s dogs got loose and attacked him in Jones’ backyard.

The dogs’ owner was ticketed by McHenry County Animal Control and he paid the fines to retrieve his dogs. He also decided to euthanize the older of the animals, according to Animal Control, which continues to investigate the incident.

These days, the dangers posed to our pets are many and varied. And the smaller the animal, the more hazards there seem to be.

Last week, we received a forwarded neighborhood alert about a small dog in Lakewood that was killed by a coyote in broad daylight.

And we had a letter to the editor about a dog that was struck by a car in Cary after it escaped the grasp of its owners to chase a cat.

Of course, accidents do happen. Sometimes our pets get loose despite all our precautions. And sometimes we can’t move fast enough to stop a tragedy from happening.

However, we all must do what we can to keep our pets under control and safe. That means knowing what the dangers are and taking preventive steps.

Unfortunately, though, tragedies still can happen even in the backyard.

• • •

Back to the drawing board: I was disappointed to hear that Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis has withdrawn his proposed update of Illinois’ fire safety code. In part, the plan called for requiring fire sprinklers in new construction.

Perhaps, as critics contend, Matkaitis was going about it the wrong way by circumventing the Legislature and updating the state fire code.

However, it sure sounds like the forces who opposed this measure did their level best to put out misleading information about the costs of installing sprinkler systems.

And that’s a shame.

• • •

Bright start to reading: Kudos to the Algonquin Area Public Library for its 1,001 Books Before Kindergarten program, which will celebrate its first graduation Thursday morning.

The program began seven months ago as a way to encourage parents and preschool-age children to start the habit of reading as soon as possible. Children earn prizes for every 100 books they have read to them.

When the program began, 164 children signed up in the first week. Today, 370 children have enrolled.

Sharing a love of reading is one of the best gifts a parent can give to a child because it opens up a world of possibilities.

Here’s to the program’s first 10 “graduates” for a job well done.

Long may you read!

• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at

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