Will County Responds to National Animal Welfare Crisis
Matthew Libs

Will County Responds to National Animal Welfare Crisis

New department name reflects change in direction for county animal services

Responding to a national animal welfare crisis, Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant has announced a series of ordinance changes that aim to expand the role of the county’s animal services. The changes include renaming the county’s animal welfare department to “Will County Animal Protection Services Department” to better reflect their enhanced mission. 

“These changes are the first step of a progressive new direction for animal services in Will County,” said County Executive Bertino-Tarrant. “This proactive approach will empower us to provide more support for animals and pet owners throughout the county. With a dedicated team and an expanded mission, our Animal Protection Services Department will continue working hard to protect the welfare of animals.” 

Several ordinance changes were approved in January to modernize how the county protects animals, serves the public, and provides resources to pet owners. A significant change is that the Animal Protection Services Department, previously named Will County Animal Control, will be establishing an adoption program for the first time in the organization’s history. These changes follow a nationwide increase in animal shelter populations, including at the department.

Nationwide, in 2023 approximately 6.5 million dogs and cats entered shelters or rescues according to Shelter Animals Count (www.shelteranimalscount.org), a national animal sheltering database. The number of dogs entering shelters or rescues in 2023 increased by more than 3 percent compared to 2022, and by more than 10 percent compared to 2021 intake numbers. To compound the issues, in 2023 dog adoptions were 5 percent lower than in 2019.

Since January 2021 there have been 900,000 animals entering and lingering in shelters, still waiting to be adopted. The national crisis and capacity issues have been felt locally as well.

“Our intake of animals increased 51% from 2022 to 2023,” said Will County Animal Protection Services Administrator Anna Payton “More stray animals and higher populations in animal shelters is sadly a current nationwide trend. Increasing our resources and services to our community is paramount. We help animals by serving people and that is our focus for 2024 and beyond. Will County is taking the necessary steps to establish itself as a leader in animal welfare in the state.”  

These changes reflect the first updates to Will County’s animal care and control ordinances since 2006. State’s Attorney James Glasgow and his office worked with the department to ensure that the new ordinances would bring the department in line with current state statutes and better meet the needs of the community. 

"County Executive Bertino-Tarrant and I agree that we have a responsibility to protect our companion animals, and I thank her for going above and beyond by vastly improving the critical services the County provides to defenseless animals," said Glasgow. "She has been an incredible partner with my office in understanding the importance of working hand-in-hand with the three passionate Assistant State's Attorneys that support the Animal Protection Enforcement Division and are available around the clock to work with the newly-named Animal Protection Services Department. Furthermore, she immediately realized the importance of taking the time to find a highly respected animal welfare expert like Anna Payton to take the County's animal protection services to another level."

Glasgow wrote Illinois’ first-ever animal torture bill 25 years ago, which included a mandatory psychiatric evaluation of the offender since those who abuse animals are also more likely to abuse other human beings. In 2012, he established the Paws for Kids pet therapy program at the Children's Advocacy Center, which uses forfeiture funds to provide police K9s to law enforcement agencies throughout Will County. Additionally, in 2019 Glasgow established The League of Extraordinary Canines and Friends, a countywide initiative bringing together people who care about the humane treatment of animals to work together in addressing the issue of animal cruelty and neglect. He was also named one of America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders in 2020 by the Animal Legal Defense Fund for his commitment to animals and his work in creating the League.

"Just as animals help protect and serve us, animals are deserving of protection," said Glasgow. "The County Executive's leadership in renaming the department and revising our county ordinances reflects Will County's recognition of the critically important mission of animal protection and welfare."

Along with allowing the Animal Protection Services Department to begin adoption services, the ordinance changes also empower the department to incentivize microchipping for dogs and cats. The department will now be able to offer free microchips to pets owned by senior citizens (60 and older), military personnel, and veterans.

Other notable changes include strengthening Will County’s animal protection laws, including harsher penalties for animal cruelty violations, better protections for animals in inclement weather, and rules about tethering dogs. 

The department is expected to launch their adoption program by the end of March. As part of the expanded mission to serve pet owners, the department will also publicize resources and services for pet owners throughout the year, including microchipping and vaccines and mobile clinics.   

“This is an exciting journey and I look forward to sharing more information with residents about our expanded services,” added Administrator Payton.

To learn more and stay up-to-date with Will County Animal Protection Services, visit www.willcounty.gov/AnimalServices.

Previous Article Will County, City of Joliet Begin Talks with IDOT on Local Truck Traffic
Next Article Will County Families Invited to Attend Kids' Fair on Presidents Day

Documents to download

Press Contacts

Mike Theodore
Communications Director
Ph: 815-740-4631

«April 2024»
Federal Funding Secured for Efforts to Reduce Eastern Will County Truck Congestion

Federal Funding Secured for Efforts to Reduce Eastern Will County Truck Congestion

U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (IL-02) and Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant have announced the approval of $500,000 in federal appropriations for the Eastern Will County Truck Routing Project. The project, aimed at reducing congestion in Eastern Will County, is part of the Fiscal Year 2024 government appropriations packaged approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden.

Read more
Adoptions Now Available Through Will County Animal Protection Services

Adoptions Now Available Through Will County Animal Protection Services

Will County Animal Protection Services (WCAPS) has launched their new adoption program, allowing residents to adopt pets directly through the department. The adoption program follows sweeping changes to Will County animal welfare policies in response to a nationwide increase in animal shelter populations.

Read more
Will County Partnering with Joliet Junior College to Host Nonprofit Management Trainings

Will County Partnering with Joliet Junior College to Host Nonprofit Management Trainings

Will County is hosting three workshops on nonprofit management as part of a partnership between the Will County Land Use Department’s Community Development Division and the Joliet Junior College Entrepreneur & Business Center. Three sessions will be held in April and May on different topics to provide local non-profit leaders an opportunity to improve their governance and management skills.

Read more
Will County Launches Child Care Provider Grant Opportunity

Will County Launches Child Care Provider Grant Opportunity

Will County has launched a grant opportunity for early child care providers to improve or expand services. $225,000 has been made available for licensed providers to pursue grant funding for educational materials, developmental support services, or improvements to physical space and technology.

Read more


100th birthday 20th anniversary 50th Anniversary of Earth Day Passport event 911 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System Board acting Chief Judge David Carlson adult detention adult education affordable agricultural Alison.com All Nations Church of God in Christ Alzheimer's walk ambulance America Recycles Day American Legion Post 1080 American Recycles Day American Rescue Plan Animal Control appointments Arsenal Road assistance Autism awinongya baker balanced budget bars BBQ luncheon Becky Haldorson Beecher behavioral health bertino tarrant Bertino-Tarrant bio hazard black history month block grants boards boards and commissions bolingbrook Bolingbrook Park District bonds book event book recycling book recycling and reuse event book reuse and recycling Book Reuse and Recyling Event booster shot booster vaccine boxing Brayden Caraynoff-Haber Brock Stein Bruce Gould budget building codes building permits burke businesses call center career career coaching career fair career training CARES Act Caroline Portlock cash reserves catholic charities CBS 2 Chicago CDC CED cemetery association census centerpoint certification ceus chamber of commerce Charles Schad Charlotte Mather chicago Street child advocacy center children's chirstmas Christina Snitko Christmas Christmas decorations Christmas lights circuit clerk Citizen Utility Board Citizens Utility Board city city of joliet Clarius Park closings Clothes 4 Work CMAP ComEd commissions communities of interest Community Development of Block Grant community health community service council composting computers Congressman Foster construction bids contact tracing cooling centers cornerstone services coronavirus cost savings council county county board chairs county departments County Executive Denise Winfrey County Executive Larry Walsh county government County Office Building covid covid impacts covid-19 COVID-19 crisis COVID-19 vaccination COVID-19 vaccinations covid-19 vaccine C-Pace crete cultural Curt Paddock Danette Krieger Dave Nichols David Dubois daylight savings DBE dea Deborah Alexander Deirdre Manigo delta variant Denise Winfrey dental department of human services department of transportation Deterra Drug Disposal dia de los muertos Diane Brozman digital safety Director Curt Paddock disabled disabled workers disorder distressed document shredding Don Gould dr. ezike Dr. L.P. Schild Dr. Scott Soderquist drainage district drive-through job fair drug disposal drug take back early voting Earth Day Earth Flag Awards Easter Eastside Green House economic development Eden Community Garden electric school buses electronic recycling electronics recycling EMA agency emergency Emergency Management Agency emergency rental assistance employment ems week energy and conservation survey energy conservation energy efficiency environment Erin Kohl Ethics Adviser eviction diversion Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant extreme heat face masks fair housing fall festivites family february federal federal funding fees financial savings fire protection district first responder fiscal health fiscal responsibility fiscal year fixed bus route flouride flu food bank forklift drivers frankfort Frankfort Township Friends of Sunny Hill funding future gardening gatherings Gertrude Hoover glenwood avenue Gloria Dollinger Go Solar godley public water commission Golden Corral Buffet Good Friday governor pritzker Governors State University grants green energy Green Team groundbreaking growth halloween Harold Damron health Health Department healthcare hero helps heroin epidemic relief organization heroin legislation forum hero helps addiction trea high credit rating high risk Historic Preservation Commission holiday holiday bazaar holiday gift show and luncheon holiday safety tips holiday shopping holiday string lights holidays HOME home improvements homeless hospital houbolt bridge Household Hazardous Waste housing How's Mom app HVAC ice and fire leadership academy IDPH IEPA ihda IL Rental Payment Assistance Illinois Department of Transportation Illinois Dept of Public Health Illinois Energy Conservation Illinois Extension Service Illinois Housing Development Authority Illinois Recycling Foundation indoor dining indoor recreation industrial infrastructure insulation intermodal interview interviiew investment James Ingram Janine Farrell Jason Holicky Jeff Hubrich Jennifer Bertino Tarrant Jesse Cruitt JJC City Center Campus Joan O'Keefe job creation job fair job fair in-a-bag job search job skills job training jobs Joe Malacina Joe Van Duyne John Greuling John Ocansey Johnson & Johnson Joliet Joliet Arsenal Development Advisory Board Joliet Chamber joliet chamber of commerce Joliet Fire joliet fire department joliet junior college Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk Joliet Park District Joliet Slammers joliet west high school jones Joyce Parker Judge David Carlson Judy Ogalla Karen Sorbero Kathy Pecora Land Use Department Laraway Communications Center Larry Walsh Lauren Staley Ferry Lewis University library lighting fixtures lincoln's birthday linked in lab LInkedIn lion electric liquor license Local 150 local officials logistics luncheon Madison Curran Maggie McDowell maintenance manurfacturing Margaret McDowell Marta Keane Marth Sojka mask mass vaccination clinis material handlers McDonald's mechanic medicaid Melissa Hemzacek Memorial Day mental health Meta Mueller Michael Hennessey Michelle Stiff Midwest Classics on 66 Museum Midwest Renewable Energy Association Mike Bell mitigations Mobile Workforce Center moderna mokena Monee Park District Monee Township Moody Investor Service mortgage assistance Moving Will County multi chamber municipal museums Music and memory NACo narcan natalie manley National Community Development Week National Hookup of Black Women National Institute of Health National Recycling Coalition nctv 17 needles neuter/spay new year's day Nick Palmer non profit Northeastern Illinois Northwest Homerr Fire Protection omnibus bill 2022 operators opioid addiciton opioid use disorder opioids Organix pace suburban bus Pam Rodriguez pandemic paper shredding paratranist paratransit Pastor Dwayne Barfield Penny Curran Peotone permits pet population pets pfizer pharmaceutical take back phase 4 Phillip P. Pilon Pilcher Park Pilcher Park Nature Center plainfield Plainfield Chamber Plainfield Park District Plainfield United Methodist portal Prairie State Legal Services President Biden presidents day project acclaim public building public defender public health public safety pumpkin composting Pumpkin Pitch pumpkins quarantine R3 rabies Rain barrels rain gardens rating ready will county recovery recovery coach recreation Recyclepalooza recycling Recycling Connections redistricting register registration renewable natural gas renewals rent assistance rental assistance rental grants reopen research and development residential residents resource fair. Resource Recovery and Energy Resource Recovery and Energy Division resource room resources restaurants restore illinois restore reinvest renew resume Resume Gallery Rethink Water campaign reuse ribbon rng plant roadways rock creek drainage district Rolonda Mitchell Romeoville Athletic and Event Center Romeoville Chamber of Commerce romeoville police department Roy Strong rural historic structures safety Samantha Bluemer sanitary district sanitary system Savers Savers. WJOL schedule school bus driver school garden Scott Kettman Scott Slocum security officers Seeds of Change Grant Program Senior Services Center seniors Sept 11 Sharefest sharps collection shelter Sherry Newquist shorewood sick sign language silver cross hospital silver gloves skilled care skills small business grants smoke detectors snowplow social events solar solar group buy Solarize Chicagoland south suburban housing center in homewood Southeast Joliet spanish community center spay spay neuter Spirit of Community Caring Award spring 2021 St. Vincent DePaul Standard and Poor's state of illinois state of the county stay home Stepping Stones string lights substance use Substance Use Initiatives Sue Olenek suicide Sunny Hill Nursing Home Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County Susan Flessner Susan Olenek swimming pools taxpayers technology Ted Slowik telecommunicators tenants testing textile and shoe collection textile collection textile recycling The Daily Southtown The Friends of Sunny Hill Inc. The Hero Group thermal Three Rivers Association of Realtors tier 1 Tim Anderson tire collection Todd Fonfara toys r us training transportation treatment trick or treating U.S. National Championship union labor united bridge partners University Park unpaid rent unused prescriptions update US Bureau of Labor USAgain vaccination vaccinations vaccine vaccine appointments vaccine clinic veterans veterans assistance commission Veterans Day veterinarian Village of Romeoville virtual vision and hearing screening vow renewal warming centers Warren-Sharpe Community Center Washington Township Wayne Breitbarth We WILL Build We Will Grow Garden Program weather related closings wescom West Nile Virus will Will County will county animal control Will County Board Will County Center for Community Concerns Will County Clerk will county dot will county ema Will County Executive Will County Executive Denise Winfrey Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant Will County Executive Larry Walsh Will County Executive Larry Walsh Midwest Renewabl Will County Farm Bureau will county green will county health Will County Health Department Will County Historic Preservation Commission Will County Land Use Department Will County Office Building Will County Office Buildng will county residents will county sheriff Will County TB clinic Will County Veterans Affairs Commission Will County Workforce Center Will County Workforce Services Division will works William E. Young School wilminton winter safety winter storm WJOL Workforce Center of Will County Workforce Investment Board workforce partners Workforce Services Division Workforce Services Division of Will County Workforce Services Division releases November work work-related training workshops wrapping paper xray Youth Provider Workshop