Tails: The truth is I am heartbroken

I went to the Chicago Animal Care and Control Commissions meeting yesterday and I left there a lot of things: angry, frustrated, confused. But, the truth is: I left there heartbroken.

Thousands of dogs will be killed today for no good reason, thousands will sit in their own feces locked in puppy-mills to never see the light of day, thousands will be relinquished by their owners to city shelters where they will never come out of alive, and thousands more will be beaten or neglected in their own homes. Thousands of dogs will suffer today.

And this is heartbreaking to anyone – especially to someone like me – who believes dogs are the most compassionate, forgiving animals on the planet.

However, beyond my sadness for the animals is my sadness for the entire animal welfare movement. I sat through the meeting. I furrowed my brow. I said nasty words under my breath when they said, “We can’t put dogs on the adoption side because we don’t have enough of them.”

Why do you need more then one? Why don’t you just start with one and see how it goes? When that one gets adopted, and it will, put another one in. You don’t need 10 before someone will adopt one.

I rolled my eyes when they said they can’t do field redemptions because of a whole bunch of bullshit laws. Isn’t it in EVERYONE’s best interests to return the dog to its owners BEFORE it ever steps foot in a shelter? Doesn’t that SAVE EVERYONE money?

I smirked when one brave person in the public forum wanted to know what happened to Missy, the dog left in an animal control van for 6 days without food or water… And then I gasped, when they told her they couldn’t say a word because it was under investigation. Not a word, huh? At least we know Missy is in rescue and no longer at the hands of city neglect.

I felt a lot of emotions as I sat in my chair and looked around. I felt hope seeing over 25 people from the public attend the meeting. Twenty-five people show interest. Twenty-five people stare at the board and question them on their actions. EVERYONE should be questioning them. They are killing dogs and cats every single day. Good dogs, adoptable dogs. Friendly cats.

I don’t just say this like some random blogger. My rescue took a dog out of there two weeks ago. A dog that was successfully treated for 3 weeks for CIV. We were told that if we (or some rescue) didn’t take him, he would be euthanized in 4 days. Pops is the best dog you could ask for. He doesn’t chew. He is potty trained. He doesn’t run away. He loves kids and other dogs. The list of his outstanding characteristics goes on and on. Yet, if no one could have stepped in, he would be dead right now. Instead, he is being adopted. Adopted by someone from the city, who could have just as easily adopted him from CACC.

But, what really breaks my heart is the conversations that take place AFTER the meeting. So many wonderful people with huge hearts trying to fight  to save the animals. All of them – not just the cute ones or the lovable ones – ALL of them. Yet, as I hear them talk all I really see is each of them fighting against one another.

The animal welfare movement suffers because they can’t agree on common ground.  Instead they focus on commentary like this:

 That rescue sucks because they board their dogs.

That person sucks because they steal dogs out of the backyards of abusive homes.

That person is crazy because she will only adopt to people who stay home all day.

 The list of unacceptable behaviors goes on and on. So much so, that when I left CACC, I wondered if there were any rescues getting it right, if there was one single person who was met with complete approval.

Hey, I would do anything to save a dog from euthanasia, but I eat meat. Another reason to disapprove of me as a rescuer.

I know, deep down, everyone’s heart is in the right place. I know from my very own perspective, that I judge people and scrutinize who is “good enough” to adopt. I have said things about some people and some rescues. Yes, I mean not nice things…

But, here is the kicker… if we cannot find common ground, if we cannot come together and agree on the basic fundamentals of rescue, we will never win this battle. One hundred individuals are not nearly as powerful as a united army of the same number.

This war we wage on city shelters is big. We are fighting politics and policies and unions. We are fighting things much bigger than any one of us. However, I don’t think it is bigger than all of us TOGETHER.

The question is, “Can we put our opinions aside and focus on the animals? Can we stop harshly criticizing each other just long enough to form a strong alliance?”

We need an alliance. Not just in Chicago, but anywhere we are fighting for change.

In Chicago we need an alliance NOT made up of only the players who actually sit at the CACC board table. We need people willing to stand-up and speak out AGAINST the horrors of CACC.

Thousands of dogs will die today. That is our common ground. Let’s forget the crap we use to hurt one another and reunite to actually make a monumental difference in the lives of not just one dog at a time, but all dogs once and for all.

2 thoughts on “Tails: The truth is I am heartbroken

  1. Gail Konopacki

    Why is it I see so many posts like this that leave the cats out? Everything here applies to the cats as well and yet only the dogs are mentioned. The cats deserve to live as well.

  2. Toni Cooley

    Thank you for saying all the things I wish I were brave enough to say at local meetings. I get so emotional they just think i am another “nut” for the animals. No kill is possible and if it is done right, the AC directors will all be gung ho about it. People will sing their praises. The first thing IMO is to reevaluate staff. Put cameras in all animal areas. Get out the bad apples. Then hire caring people who do the job with love. Just rambling here. Thank you.

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