Tag Archives: CACC

Tails: It is Time to See the BIG Picture

Every day people, just like me, post things declaring “millions of dogs and cats euthanized each year.”  Yet, I don’t think many of the people who post those phrases truly grasp the gravity of the words.

I write this blog under duress.  I am pissed off and frustrated.  I feel completely helpless and overwhelmed.  Once again the municipal shelter system is to blame.  For me it is CACC, but I know Chicago, sadly, isn’t alone.  There are hundreds of these crappy shelters across the United States.  Hundreds of shelters killing thousands of animals for NO good reason.

Let me describe my current situation.  A woman contacted me through Facebook.  Her rescue would like to pull two dogs who are “transfer only” from CACC, but her rescue has not been approved yet as a Homeward Bound Partner, so she can’t.  Unfortunately, like her, our rescue, who applied months ago, has not been approved either, so I can’t help her.

Before I continue down what I deem a horrific path, let me address the issue of “transfer only” because, it, too, is one of the ridiculous practices of CACC.  There are hundreds of “transfer only” dogs listed everyday for CACC.  Transfer only means that the dog must go to an approved rescue.  If no rescue pulls it, it will be killed.  The crazy thing about this policy is that we have pulled “transfer only” dogs only to turn around and adopt them almost immediately to people living in Chicago.  The very same people who would have adopted the dog at CACC.  The process would have been quicker and cheaper.  Our adoption fee is $300, CACC’s is like $70.  Why does a perfectly good dog have to be “transfer only?”

I have attended meetings at CACC only to hear their volunteers voice the same concerns.  They say repeatedly, “We never have any dogs for adoption.  People come here from all over the city on a Saturday and the adoption room is empty.”  So, the citizens leave pissed off and never return because who wants to waste their time?

CACC could have lots of dogs for adoption – all different kinds of dogs.  The dogs we pull are small, fluffy dogs – the cute ones – the ones who are almost always easily adopted.  There is no reason why CACC can’t be adopting these dogs out themselves.  Well, there are a few reasons but they only scream words like, “lazy, irresponsible, uncaring, pathetic, etc…”

Back to the scenario…  So, knowing that I can’t help this woman and her rescue,  I turn to FB contacts begging for help.  No answer.  Two dogs are sitting in a city shelter days from euthanasia… there is a rescue who is willing to take them…and yet, absolutely nothing can be done.  Can anyone feel my rage?

I got comments, of course I did.  “Quit whining and network.”  (I believe that is what I am trying to do) “I won’t help anyone right now, there are too many hoarders.”  (So fear of a possible hoarder trumps saving the life of these two dogs?)

In July, I attended the Best Friends Animal Society conference.  I was fortunate to choose to attend  The Kansas City Pet Project session and meet Brent Toellner.  During his presentation he described this scenario:

“Imagine you are walking by a pond and see hundreds of dogs drowning.  You immediately jump in the pond and start saving the dogs by throwing them to anyone who will help on the shoreline.  You don’t ask if they own a fence or if they work all day.  You don’t even care if they have another dog.  You are just grateful that they are willing to help you.”

He went on to say, “That is where we are right now.  Millions of dogs are drowning (dying) in shelters.  We cannot afford to be choosey.”

We have convinced ourselves that saving one is better than saving none.  We say things like, “Saving the life of one dog might not make a big difference, but it is everything to that dog.”  The truth is WE can save them all, if we are willing to fathom the whole problem and not just the two eyes staring us in the face.

No, you or me can’t take a million dogs into our homes, but we can create policies and procedures that take into account the BIG picture and not just a few dogs at a time.

The truth is if we really want to save them all, we can no longer compartmentalize a problem that is in actuality a monumental disaster.  We MUST see the entire picture.

In a nation euthanizing a million good dogs a year, it makes ZERO sense that it takes months to process a rescue application, especially in a giant city euthanizing thousands of dogs a year.  If the applications were processed faster, MORE dogs would be leaving that shelter sooner.

Oh, I know, some of you are worried about hoarders or dog fighters or all of the other terrible possibilities, but as you sit there, why not start counting the number of dogs killed while you were wasting time thinking about all the “what ifs.”  Euthanasia is a given, for each dog you ponder cautiously, at least 5 other wonderful dogs are killed.

If we truly want to save them all, we have to stop being so cautious.  We have to believe what is actually true: there are more good people than bad.

We have to bank on these odds because the numbers don’t lie.  Millions of dogs are killed each year.  We can either choose to change that statistic or we can continue to drag our feet and let dogs die.

Tails: Dog Left in Van for 6 Days Without Food or Water

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.