Tag Archives: CACC

City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) Return to Owner Rate for Dogs is Steadily Improving.

For many years the CACC’s Return to Owner (RTO) rate for dogs was DISMAL. Six years ago we met with the then senior management staff to discuss what CACC could do to get more dogs home. It should be noted that 60% of the intake of CACC is stray dogs. That means many of these dogs are “owned”. These owned dogs need to go home; not have a new home or be euthanized.

Lost Dogs Illinois believed that by implementing the ideas suggested below, CACC would increase their Return to Owner Rates, reduce euthanasia and relieve pressure on the rescues that are carrying the burden to save lives. Slowly CACC started implementing the following suggestions (which we have noted in red) and this year the RTO for dogs has been over 40% (June – 45% and July 42%). Just think how many more dogs could be reunited if they implemented more of our suggestions.

  • Implement a Marketing Campaign to bring awareness to the public that your facility is where their lost pet has been taken. (Simply by having volunteers post flyers (other languages) in neighbor stores, etc.) Or place ads on Craigslist, newspapers, etc.
  • Develop a Volunteer Pet Detective or Lost Pet Recovery Team to do some of the following tasks listed below.
  • Use a dedicated email address for lost and found pets. Develop a lost pet report form on the website to enter information about lost and found pets. Use this to match against pets that are being held at other facilities or are posted on LDI, Craigslist or other internet sites.
  • Tracing dead end microchip and ID tags (Lost Dogs Illinois has volunteers who trace dead end tags and will train other shelter employees/volunteers) HAVE OFFERED
  • Door Greeter to help people with lost pets, post flyers on the board and give out lost pet information.
  • Use Helping Lost Pets as a centralized database. IMPLEMENTED
  • Volunteers can help individual lost dog families with lost dog recovery tips
  • Make sure any adopted dog or claimed dog leaves with an ID tag on a new collar. (Apply for an ASPCA Grant to receive an ID engraving machine) Research shows putting the tag on the collar when the dog leaves a facility increases the likelihood of a reunion. Research shows that more than 80% of Good Samaritans who find dogs want to find their owners. If the tags are not being attached to the collar it is defeating the purpose. IMPLEMENTED
  • Use AVMA Best Practices for Scanning for Microchips. WE HOPE
  • Implement Field redemptions by having scanners and computers on the trucks. If the dog does not have to come into the shelter there is less stress on the dog, staff, volunteers, and other dogs in the facility. This reduces euthanasia and makes more room for truly homeless dogs.
  • Negotiate or reduce fees so they are not punitive. IMPLEMENTED
  • Install a big flat screen TV in lobby for people to view the “found animals” that are being held. Many people have phobias about entering the wards. INSTALLED KIOSK IN LOBBY
  • Expand the hours of tours for stray wards.
  • Expand website to include different languages or install translator. Provide tips on how to find lost pets on the website.
  • Register microchip to the owner at implant. IMPLEMENTED
  • Use found dog signs at the location where a dog is picked up by field officers STARTED BUT STOPPED
  • Free or low cost microchip clinics along with ID tagging – HAVE BEEN DOING THIS

Update to the article – Welcome to the Cook County Animal Maze

 

In 2015, The Chicago Reader published an article entitled “Welcome to the Cook County Animal Maze”. The text of the article is reprinted below. We wanted to update our fans on our progress since then.

For the last two years, Lost Dogs Illinois has been using and promoting a centralized database called Helping Lost Pets (HeLP). LDI believes in the Power of One! If all of the entities used ONE centralized database it would make it much easier for lost pets to be reunited with their families. So far, only one stray holding facility in Cook County is using the HeLP system. That is the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. The rest of the facilities do not use HeLP. The county remains a confusing patchwork of systems, with little to no cross-commuication between them. Some stray holding facilities, vet clinics and police departments post photos of impounded pets on Facebook or their websites. Some do not.

We are frustrated and disappointed that more facilities do not utilize HeLP. It is FREE and has numerous features to enable owners, finders, employees and volunteers to make “matches” between missing and found pets. Together we could help more dogs get back home to their rightful owner.

Welcome to the Cook County animal maze

A patchwork animal-control system with no central database has made Chicago and its environs a place where lost dogs stay lost. Animal lovers and Commissioner John Fritchey want to change that.

By Julia Thiel

Last November, a yellow lab named Harley escaped from the yard of his home in Garfield Ridge, near Midway. As they searched for him, Harley’s owners checked both Chicago Animal Care and Control and the Cicero facility Waggin’ Tails Animal Shelter, with no luck finding him.

But Harley had in fact been taken to Waggin’ Tails after his escape. From there he was transferred to the Animal Welfare League location in Chicago Ridge, which is where some volunteers with Trio Animal Foundation found him in early December. Chicago-based Trio pays medical bills for homeless pets, and the volunteers were looking for animals in need of help when they noticed a hematoma on one of Harley’s ears, both of which had become infected.

Bridgid Nolan, Trio’s medical and rescue director, says that despite his condition, it was immediately obvious that Harley was no stray but a lost pet. “He was way too good not to have been someone’s dog,” she says. “He was well mannered, incredibly calm and affectionate.” The Trio volunteers took him to the organization’s vet, who treated Harley and was the first to inform Nolan that the dog was microchipped.

Nolan got the information from the chip; the phone number was disconnected, but the address led them to Harley’s family, and soon after, Harley’s owners—a father and two young children—came to Trio’s facility to claim their pet. When Harley saw the family, Nolan says, “he jumped into the kid’s lap and started rolling around on his back. They were all on the ground in this joyous reunion pile.”

Still, the owner (who declined to be interviewed for this story) was “pretty frustrated.” Nolan says Harley was held by Waggin’ Tails for 14 days before being transferred to AWL, during which time a letter was supposed to have been sent to the address associated with the microchip. But not only had Harley’s owner failed to receive a letter, he’d gone to the shelter and been told that his dog wasn’t there.

Harley (and his owners) got lucky. But not all lost pets do, and Nolan says that Cook County’s lack of a centralized database to track recovered stray animals is a major part of the problem. “It’s a frustrating, dangerous situation,” she says. “Dogs get euthanized, cats get euthanized. They get transferred to rescue groups and then they’re adopted out. The whole system’s a bit of a mess here. I can barely navigate it sometimes, and I’ve been [working in the rescue community] for 11 years. For the general population, it’s super overwhelming. You have no idea what’s going on.”

There’s no question Cook County has a decentralized, patchwork system. Chicago Animal Care and Control, in Little Village, takes in all the animals impounded within the city limits. But in the suburbs, each municipality is responsible for its own animal control, and with 135 municipalities in Cook County, there are a lot of places where a lost animal could end up. Most municipalities contract with shelters like AWL or private facilities like animal hospitals to care for impounded animals. (Cicero and Evanston, which have their own facilities, are the exceptions.) Cook County Animal and Rabies Control is responsible for unincorporated areas and the Forest Preserve District (which together total 234 square miles, just short of a quarter of Cook County’s 945 square miles of land), but doesn’t have a facility of its own either; all stray animals impounded by CCARC—on average about 500 a year—go to the AWL shelter in Chicago Ridge. From there, unclaimed animals may be taken in by other shelters, adopted by individuals, or euthanized. Yet there’s nothing to help owners find their missing animals amid this sprawl.

Four years ago, Susan Taney started Lost Dogs Illinois to help people find their missing pets. She recalls an animal control director in central Illinois telling her, “Wow, you’re going to be surprised at Cook County. It’s a mess.”

That warning turned out to be true. “It’s a maze to find your lost dog,” Taney says. She doesn’t believe that the current system is efficient or effective, and points out that the CCARC website doesn’t even list the stray holding facilities used in Cook County (her nonprofit’s site, lostdogsillinois.org, does, in addition to hosting its own database of dogs that have been lost or found by individuals). “Dogs have four legs, they can’t read signs. They can’t tell what municipality they need to stay in,” she says. “We’ve had dogs found in Wisconsin.”

Last September, Dolton Animal Hospital, the facility the village of Dolton in Cook County contracts with to house its stray animals, was shut down after a police officer found four dead dogs, nine emaciated dogs, and a severely emaciated cat that later died. In the aftermath of the discovery, law student and animal rights advocate Sarah Hanneken started an online petition demanding that CCARC be held responsible for its handling of stray animals. In it, she questioned the department’s use of its $3.5 million budget, particularly the fact that the 24-person department has only six animal control wardens for all of Cook County.

Hanneken sent the petition, which ultimately collected more than 3,000 signatures, to all of the Cook County commissioners, and at the county’s public budget meeting in downtown Chicago last October, she and Taney each outlined their concerns about CCARC.

Cook County commissioner John Fritchey says that the issue was already on his radar—over the last couple years he’s received hundreds of complaints about CCARC. And he says that at the budget hearing Hanneken and Taney attended last fall, some of the answers given by Donna Alexander, CCARC’s director, “didn’t match up to some of the facts I had.” For example, he says, Alexander told him that someone is reachable 24 hours a day. But one evening during the 2014 polar vortex, Fritchey got a call about dogs being left outside in West Town and tried to contact CCARC. It took him several tries to reach anyone, and “when I did, I was told that nothing could be done until the next day, there was nobody they could put me in touch with and nothing they could do,” he says.

“A number of questions [have been] raised about their budget, how they’re using their resources, salaries,” Fritchey says. And “I’ve had multiple instances where routine requests for information from my office to the department have been treated as Freedom of Information requests,” he adds. “That in itself raises red flags to me, and sets a very bad tone.”

In January, Fritchey asked Patrick Blanchard, the Cook County inspector general, to conduct an operations review of CCARC, which is currently under way. (Because the investigation is ongoing, Blanchard was not able to comment.)

“The Dolton case is one example of what’s wrong with the system,” Fritchey says. “It did not involve a facility that the county contracts with. But if we provided our services better, there’d be no need or opportunity for something like that to happen.”

“Dogs can’t read signs. They can’t tell what municipality they need to stay in. We’ve had dogs found in Wisconsin.”—Susan Taney of Lost Dogs Illinois

Fritchey thinks that, in addition to improving animal-control services, Cook County should operate its own shelter or shelters, centralizing the animals currently impounded by CCARC and municipal authorities. For examples of models to follow, he points to Los Angeles County, the only one in the U.S. with a greater population than Cook County’s (it has six shelters), as well as Arizona’s Maricopa County and Miami-Dade County, which are both larger than Cook County in square miles. “There’s no question it’s feasible,” he says.

Asked about CCARC’s responsibilities and goals, department spokesman Frank Shuftan (who said he’d collaborated with Alexander, CCARC’s director, on the e-mailed answers) emphasized rabies control: “The department’s main goal is to protect the public health from rabies and other diseases transmitted from animals to people through vaccination, registration and education.” (This is essentially identical to the mission stated on its website.) The e-mail addressed the spaying and neutering of pets, but discussed stray animal control only in relation to the training in animal control techniques that CCARC provides for Cook County municipalities.

That’s because in the department’s view the present system making each municipality responsible for its own animal control is the most efficient one. “Strays are most easily apprehended by local animal control or properly trained law enforcement who are familiar with the terrain and who can be deployed rapidly due to proximity,” wrote Shuftan. Moreover, CCARC maintains, placing lost animals in shelters close to their homes increases reunification rates with owners: “Best practice holds that a centrally located facility does not increase owner and animal reunification as well as locally based housing.”

As for a central, searchable database, CCARC’s reply again focused on rabies: the department’s discussed creating a password-protected one to allow law enforcement officials to access rabies tag records, but it’s a “technical and capital issue” that hasn’t come to fruition, Shuftan said. He didn’t address the question of creating a database of animals impounded by CCARC that, like Lost Dogs Illinois’s, is publicly accessible.

Fritchey, who owns a rescue dog himself, doesn’t think the “technical and capital issues” CCARC refers to are necessarily insuperable. He points out that Cook County has quite a few buildings that are currently standing empty; it might be possible to retrofit one as a shelter. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re able to do that for less money than we’re spending now, with better results,” he says.

“If Cook County wants to say, hey, we are doing what we are supposed to do under the law, OK—that’s fine,” he adds. “But just following the law doesn’t meant that you’re doing things right. Can’t we do this better, even if we need to make legislative changes to do it?” Fritchey realizes that, especially in the midst of city and state budget crises, he may be criticized for focusing on animal control, but shrugs that off too. “When you look at animal welfare issues, it’s not just about the animals, it’s about the owners and families they came from,” he says. “People care about this issue. It’s not a frivolous issue.

“There’s few people I like better than my dog,” he adds, “so this is an easy one for me.”

Reprinted from The Chicago Reader

 

 

Free Pet Health Fair – July 30,2016

Jackie, Lydia, Susan, Alderman Lopez & Rebecca

Jackie, Lydia, Susan, Alderman Lopez & Rebecca

What happens when a City funded animal control (City of Chicago Animal Care and Control), not for profit organization (Lost Dogs Illinois) and a professional hockey team (Chicago Wolves) join together for the second time?  They put on a Free Pet Health Fair sponsored by Alderman Raymond Lopez.

As quoted on Lopez’s Facebook page:  “On average, the rabies vaccination as well as the five main canine vaccines can cost up to $150 per pet. Thanks to this collaborative effort, not only was I able to keep our pets current on their shots & healthy, but also save 15th Ward Residents over $105,000 in required vaccination costs!”

Also each dog was microchipped and received an engraved ID tag that was attached to their collar.  Over 400 ID tags were donated by Lost Dogs Illinois.

These pictures say it all….. preserving the human/animal bond.

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Chicago Pets Benefiting from New ID Tag Engraver at Chicago Animal Care and Control

Misty getting her new tag.  Her family being reunited with Misty

Misty getting her new tag. Her family being reunited with Misty

Chicago Animal Care and Control took one giant leap for petkind recently by adding a high-tech ID tag-engraving machine to its shelter facilities.

CACC Administrative Services Officer Susan Cappello said the non-profit group, Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control, donated a VIP Pet ID tag machine to the shelter in January 2016.

“The Pet ID Tag machine will be used to provide free pet ID tags to all customers who adopt a new pet, find their lost pet, and attend our monthly low-cost pet vaccine clinic,” Cappello told Lost Dogs Illinois via email. “In less than one week of use, CACC made over 10 tags already to new or existing pet owners.”

Cappello added that CACC’s next low-cost vaccine clinic will be held Feb. 17 and that “[W]e plan to provide a pet ID tag to every customer” that day.

Providing pets with ID tags can help shelters reduce overcrowding. A 2010 study conducted by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggested that pet ID tags containing owner contact information make it easier for people to help get that animal home should it become lost. That allows a shelter to direct its resources to supporting true homeless pets.

ID tag and collar

ID tag and collar

“Having a microchip is a great safety measure for emergencies or if the pet loses a tag or collar,” Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told New York Times blogger Tara Parker-Pope in 2011. “But an ID tag is the simplest, easiest way to assure your pet is going to get home.”

Chicago Animal Care and Control strongly recommends that all pet owners microchip and obtain a collar and tag for their pets, Cappello said.

Cats that get lost are nine times more likely to be reunited with their owner if they arrive at a shelter with a collar and tag or microchip,” Cappello emphasized.  “Dogs are five times more likely to be returned home to their owner if they have a collar and tag or microchip.

“If your pet gets lost and is found by our shelter, we will research the tag and microchip information and contact you as soon as possible,” Cappello said. “Collars with identification are your pets’ fastest ticket back to you should they become lost.”

Joliet ID machine 5.2015

Engraving an ID tag at Joliet Township Animal Control

CACC joins Joliet Township Animal Control as two major Northern Illinois municipal animal control programs now offering ID tags as part of the adoption/retrieval package. JTAC, which serves Joliet, Joliet Township, Crest Hill and Rockdale, used part of a $20,000 grant awarded it by The Petco Foundation, in partnership with Natural Balance Pet Foods, to purchase its machine in March 2015.

ILresearch

Thank you Lydia Rypcinski for writing this article!

 

 

 

Chicago Animal Care and Control commission Meeting – November 19, 2015

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We, at Lost Dogs Illinois, feel it is important to keep you informed on how we are trying to support our mission is reuniting lost dogs with their owners.

Last Thursday (November 19, 2015) our Director attended the open meeting of the Commission (advisory board)  for the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. She read the following statement:

Since 2012 through the end of September 2015, over 70,000 animals have passed through the doors of CACC.   Approximately 4,400 were adopted; 5,400 were returned to owner and 37,000 were transferred to rescues. 24,000 were killed. What is wrong with this picture?

The management staff of CACC has been so concerned with increasing their live release rate that they have done this at the expense of owned family pets and rescues. Rescues are doing the heavy lifting. Many of these rescues volunteers are paying taxes to support CACC while they are funding their rescue organizations and volunteering their time to take care of these animals..

Many progressive animal controls have over a 50% return to owner rate for dogs and 9-13% RTO for cats. Many of these owned dogs and cats at CACC are being adopted out, transferred to other shelters and rescues or killed.

These same progressive animal controls have adoption programs and promote adoption events to find homes for the homeless.

Creating programs to keep animals in their homes and out of shelters reduces shelter intake. Preserving the owner/animal bond should be at the heart and soul of every animal shelter’s core mission

It is time for the City of Chicago to hire a Director who will implement progressive, proven programs like a lost pet recovery and viable adoption program including an intervention program to keep animals in their homes.

Illinois is ranked number one in animal protection laws in the US even though Chicago, a world-class city, is lagging way behind in saving lives and keeping animals in their homes.

One final note: Chicago’s shelters are rich in cash assets. I understand that it is good business practice to have a surplus and that some assets are locked in.  BUT when the three largest shelters have over $100 million in assets. Doesn’t it make sense to collaborate with CACC to offer free microchip events to Chicago residents, develop programs to keep animals in their homes, and to help with CACCs adoption program. I hope common sense will prevail to save lives.

photo credit: sue and flora via photopin (license)

Keeping Our Fans Informed!

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Since the Chicago City Council and Mayor approved the 3 day stray hold, the Director of Lost Dogs Illinois has made a commitment to try to attend the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) Commissioners Meeting. The meetings are held every two months at CACC starting at 8:30. After the meeting is over, the public is allowed to read a statement or ask questions.

On March 19, our Director read this statement to the Commissioners.

Our Director attended the next scheduled meeting. This is the statement she read: “Since Animal Welfare League and other facilities have been approved to hold Chicago stray animals, aren’t their Return To Owner statistics posted publicly like CACCs.

  • What are the fees and fines that each facility charges and are they posted publicly like CACC does?
  • What is the cross communication among these facilities in order to help owners find their lost pets?
  • Since all these facilities have been approved to hold stray animals for CACC, why are they not required to post photos on the internet or Facebook?”

CACC is supported by Chicago taxpayers. As taxpayers, you have a voice and should not settle for anything less than excellence from CACC. The next meeting is Thursday, July 16th at CACC.

For more information:

Commissioners Meeting Schedule

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!!

Coqueta

Coqueta was reunited with her family the next day after her mandatory three day stray hold at Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC).

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!! Thanks to the guidance and help from the two animal welfare organizations, Red Door Shelter and New Leash on Life; Coqueta’s Good Samaritan was able to pull Coqueta from CACC and foster her. A team of volunteers distributed fliers and in one night she was reunited when her owners saw one of the posted fliers.

One of Lost Dogs Illinois’s (LDI) concerns with reducing the stray hold from five days to three days was owners would not have time to find their lost dogs. Coqueta’s story verifies this. Many owners who are looking for their dogs do not find them within three days. More time is needed.

A LDI shout out to this special Good Sam who went the extra mile to find Coqueta’s family! Coqueta didn’t need a new home. She just needed to go back home.

Keeping our Fans in the Loop – Revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold.

Slide1As promised we are keeping our supporters updated with our pursuit in having the Chicago Mayor and Aldermen revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold for cats and dogs.

Last week our director sent this email to Mayor Emanuel, Susana Mendoza and the 50 Aldermen:

“The citizens of Chicago have spoken and are continuing to speak out against the ordinance to reduce the stray hold for cats and dogs.  There are currently over 10,000 signatures on the petition to revisit the ordinance for reducing the stray hold for cats and dogs in Chicago.

There was NO discussion regarding how this was going to affect the hundreds of thousands of citizens and their loved family pets.
This new ordinance just made it harder for families to find their lost pets. The issue at Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC)  is their extremely low Return To Owner (RTO) rate of 15% for dogs and  0% for cats and that is what needs to be addressed.   Many cities and counties (even in Illinois) have RTO rates of 50% or more for dogs and 3-13% for cats.  Common sense dictates that by getting owned strays back home it saves taxpayers’ money.  An added benefit is increased goodwill and public press for CACC and Chicago.

Please take a minute to read Lost Dogs Illinois blogs:

Update:  Revisiting the ordinance to reduce the stray hold

Revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold

Please feel free to contact me.”

Again, they did not take the time to do their homework in making a decision which affects thousands of citizens in both Chicago and Cook County.  Please continue to put pressure on the Mayor and the aldermen. Be clear with your message and ask them to revisit the ordinance.

Thank you

Update: Revisiting the ordinance to reduce the stray hold for cats and dogs in Chicago

 

Slide1We, at Lost Dogs Illinois, feel it is important to keep you informed on what is going with trying to revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold of dogs and cats in Chicago.

Last Thursday our Director attended the open meeting of the Commission (advisory board)  for the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. She read the following statement:

“Good Morning!  I am Susan Taney, Director of Lost Dogs Illinois.  As many of you know, LDI is a not for profit organization that provides resources and tools to help families find their lost dogs.  We saw the need to help Illinois residents in the recovery of their lost dogs. Many people give up, do not have the resources to help them, do not know where their animal control facility is located or the money to pay for a professional “pet detective”.  In less than five years, over 15,000 dogs have been reunited with their families.

We were very dismayed to learn after the fact that the City of Chicago Budget committee had passed the ordinance to reduce the stray hold.  On LDI’s Facebook page, we asked our supporters to contact the Mayor and Aldermen.  I attended the City Council meeting with our supporters to only find out that there was no public discussion allowed at the meeting.  Another aldermen also had told us that the ordinance was going to be tabled for more discussion.  The ordinance was passed with no public comment.

After trying to find out when the ordinance was going to be implemented.  I FOIA’d (Freedom of Information Act) City of Chicago Animal Care and Control and received the following message – “See Attached and the link to the ordinance” Then I asked the City Clerk’s office – they gave me the link.  Again, no implementation date was set.  I did not find out the implementation date until the Prince Charming blog. There was nothing provided to the hundreds of thousands of Chicago residents with beloved family pet members letting them know that the ordinance had been changed.  Chicago citizens pay taxes; their taxes fund CACC. CACC is supposed to provide services to the citizens.

I also want to share that two years ago Kathy Pobloskie, Director of LDOW, and I met with the CACC senior management staff to provide suggestions for free and low cost ways to increase the return to owner rates.  We offered to train their volunteers.  I also presented a PowerPoint presentation to CASA about Lost Dogs Illinois in regards to our program.  Our goal is to make Chicago shine and be one of the best cities to live in and know that the Chicago residents who have animals as loved family pets will be treated with respect and dignity. We have received so many testimonials from families saying they did not know what to do, where to look and now CACC has only made it more difficult for residents to find their lost animals. There needs to be a balance between people who have lost their dogs and the truly homeless dogs that needs to be rescued.
To conclude, we are very disappointed that there was no public discussion allowed when this ordinance was passed.  There has not been any kind of public information campaign.  This ordinance is vague.  There are so many unanswered questions.   I have attached my blog in regards to questions about this ordinance.  I request that all these questions be answered in a public forum.  Thank you for allowing me to speak.”

Attached are the handouts that was given in the packet to the members of the Commission for the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control .

LDI Blog – Revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold period for cats and dogs in Chicago.

LDI Blog – Where Oh Where could my lost dog be held in Cook County

LDI Blog – Part 2 Where Oh Where could my lost dog be held in Cook County

LDI believes that knowledge is power. Be sure to read our blogs. Be informed.  You are your animals’ advocate.  They are depending on you!  The Mayor and Aldermen have the power to change this ordinance. We ask that you continue to call, email, and even set up appointments to discuss your concerns. Continue to share the petition.

City of Chicago Aldermen

rahm.emanuel@cityofchicago.org  Mayor

Together we can make an impact for Chicagoans and their loved cat and dog family members.

Former Director, Mitch Schneider

Former Director, Mitch Schneider

Revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold period for cats and dogs in Chicago

As most of our followers know, we supported and reposted the petition for Mayor Emanuel and Chicago City Council to revisit the ordinance to reduce the stray hold period for cats and dogs. We want to explain why we agree with the petition.

Last November we voiced our concerns on our Facebook page about the ordinance being passed by the budget committee. We asked our supporters to contact their aldermen and the Mayor to ask them to table it for public discussion. The next Wednesday our director attended the meeting to voice her concerns during public comments and was dismayed to find out that no public comments were allowed. The resolution was passed with 49 ayes. Alderman Pope moved to reconsider the foregoing vote. Motion was lost.

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What could have been done differently?

First of all, the Mayor and the Aldermen could have set aside the ordinance and asked the Commission of Chicago Animal Care and Control (advisory board) to research ways to increase the return-to- owner rates for Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC).

Here are some ideas that other cities have adopted to increase their return-to-owners rates. (tax dollars being spent wisely)

  1. Offer a “Free Ride Home Program.” Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Washoe County (NV) have similar programs. Animal Care staff will give a pet one free ride home per year if it is wearing a City pet license. No ticket will be issued for the first time licensed pets run at large. This puts licensing in a positive light showing the benefits of what it can do for an owner and their pet.
  2. Offer free or low cost ($5.00) microchip clinics. Washoe County, Nevada offered one year of free microchips and saw a 30% increase in their return to owner rates. (Side note: CA based Found Animal Foundation offers $4.95 microchip with free lifetime registration) In a recent study of US animal shelters, 52.2% of stray dogs and 38.5% stray cats with registered microchips were reunited.
  3. ID Me programs – ASPCA study found shelters that provide engraved ID tags with collars at the time of adoption or redemption show that pet owners will keep the collar w/tags on their pets which provides instant identification.

These are just a few simple suggestions to increase a shelter’s return-to- owner rate. There are many more.

We would like to have these questions answered regarding the reduced stray hold:

  1. Where was the discussion on how this would affect hundreds of thousands of families and their loved family pets in Chicago?
  2. What are the safeguards if a family of a dog or cat of “unknown ownership” comes in after the stray hold with proof of ownership? Can they get their dog or cat back? What is the procedure?
  1. Animal Welfare League (AWL) is the one of three non-city agencies that holds animals for City of Chicago. They do not post photos of found animals. Are the animals held for 3 days at AWL and then transferred to CACC to be held for another 3 days or does the stray hold clock start clicking at AWL.
  2. Because the new ordinance states “In the event the executive director determines that an animal of unknown ownership suffers from severe behavioral issues, the executive director may allow any disposition, of the animal after three days.” What is the definition of severe behavioral issues? What are the qualifications of the person who is determining these behavioral issues?
  3. Finally, where was the public campaign to explain this ordinance to citizens who considered their pets loved family members?

Many lost pets go unclaimed because it is virtually impossible for the average citizen to figure out the “system” in Chicago and Cook County. The owners are looking, but not in the right place, they don’t know where to look and the shelters make the false assumption that the animal is a “stray” or has been “dumped”. Factor in that a large percentage of the urban population speak limited English, have limited finances, transportation and computer access. They may work two jobs or shift work, and cannot visit the stray holding facility during normal business hours. This makes it difficult for people to claim their animals. The reduced stray hold exacerbates the problem.

Again, we are asking that you continue to sign and share the petition. Please send in your questions and comments to your aldermen and the Mayor. Thank you for your support and taking the time to read our blog.

City of Chicago Aldermen

rahm.emanuel@cityofchicago.org  Mayor

@ChicagosMayor Twitter

Mayor’s Facebook Page

susana.mendoza@cityofchicago.org  City Clerk

City Clerk’s Facebook Page