MOUNT VERNON — It was a group effort Sunday after a fire broke out at the home of Neil and Debra McIlvoy at 12092 Upper Gilchrist Road. In addition to College Township Fire Department, agencies on the scene included Knox County Animal Control, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Knox County Health Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
The incident is under investigation, according to College Township Trustee Doug McLarnan, so no details regarding the blaze were available as of press time.
The News did learn that Knox County Health Commissioner Julie Miller was called in because many small animals perished in the fire: Birds, gerbils, lizards, rabbits and cats. She said she was there to advise the responders on the proper method to handle the deceased animals. There were some animal survivors, she said, including a couple of dogs, turtles and some cats.
Mike Miller, wildlife officer of ODNR, was called because the owners had native wildlife. Miller said he took possession of a white-tailed deer, which is currently in quarantine at the Knox County dog shelter because the owners had no permit for the deer.
“You’re not allowed to have any native species of animals unless you have a permit,” said Miller. “What people do, they just pick them up because they want to have them as pets. Sometimes they do it on purpose; other times they do it thinking things are orphans when they’re not.”
Knox County Dog Warden Jim St. Clair gave no particulars regarding the animals at the fire scene.
“As far as we’re concerned,” he said, “it’s still an open case.”
A call to the State Fire Marshal’s Office was not returned at press time.