Headlines like this one make news and find animal lovers outraged. However, this dog wasn’t left by her owner for 6 days without food or water, she was left by Chicago Animal Care and Control! She was left by an agency whose only mission is to care for the city’s animals. What does that say about the agency?
Maybe if the police forgot about her in the car or the tax assessor’s office forgot her outside, but animal control?
CACC took 14 dogs to a Chicago Wolves game to be adopted. One of the dogs, Missy, wasn’t comfortable at the event, so someone put her back in the van. All the other dogs found homes that night. A CACC worker drove the van back to the shelter and never took Missy out of the van. Days later, another CACC employee moved the van and still failed to notice the dog.
I tossed and turned last night thinking about this situation. I even considered offering some benefit of doubt. Maybe something like this…after the excitement and success of the adoption fest, the tired worker gets in the van, the dog is sleeping and quiet, worker parks the van and overlooks the dog in the back. That is possible. God knows people have left children in carseats and gone into work before…
But, here is where it gets sticky for me… If that were me, and I did manage to initially forget the dog, I KNOW that in the middle of the night I would jump out of bed and remember the dog! How could I not? I work at a shelter, I should love animals, right? I should care about who I am responsible for. I should not forget they ever existed.
Let’s say I am a totally incompetent and I never remember the dog. Then, someone else should have noticed Missy’s kennel was empty. At some point there had to be protocol to take all of the paperwork of the dogs who were brought to the adoption fest and process them into the system. Either the dogs would have adoption paperwork or their kennel cards would be put back on their kennels. (remember the dog was in the van for 6 days… certainly paperwork must be completed in 6 days)
And, what about the people who feed and water the dogs each day? I worked at an animal control facility and every time I came in to feed the dogs, if a dog was missing, I found out where it was. Is that just because I cared?
This entire situation infuriates me! I do think that whoever drove the van back to CACC should be immediately fired. But, I also believe that the shelter director should be fired. There are obvious huge gaps in the protocol of the shelter that leave dangerous issues looming.
Is there any accountability for all of the 6000 dogs who enter into CACC? How many other instances like this have occurred without public knowledge? Knowing the many black eyes of CACC, I hardly believe this is the first incident an animal was left for dead.
Robert Herguth reported on the situation in A Dog Gone Shame – City Pound Leaves Pooch in Van for Five Nights. In the article, he details two other tragic deaths at CACC in the last year which only demonstrate further incompetence and a complete lack of compassion.
When Enron and the other banks collapsed, the CEOs were held responsible, that is how it should work at CACC. The management of the facility needs to be replaced immediately. And by replaced, I mean completely replaced by people who do NOT already work there. Shelter professionals with outstanding track records for creating no kill shelters. People who are excited about the world of animal welfare and are compassionate about the animals who seek shelter and homes.
CACC is a government agency, but it needs people who are specifically passionate about animals. Not people who are just looking for a government pension. It is the city of Chicago, for God’s sake, certainly, it can afford a professional with these qualities!
On a side note, I will be very interested to see if any criminal charges are filed. Leaving a dog without food or water for 6 days certainly warrants animal neglect. The police are investigating.
If a dog isn’t safe in a facility that is specifically financed, designed, and trained to care for her, is she safe anywhere?
It will be up to the taxpayers of Chicago to find justice for Missy and to demand that CACC become a shelter that a large city can be proud of.