Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society will no longer keep dogs & cats during animal control holding period
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004:
CHICAGO, NEW YORK CITY–Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society
president Gene Mueller, DVM, in early July 2004 announced that
starting in November the Anti-Cruelty Society will no longer house
stray or feral animals brought by the public during the five-day
holding period when they can neither be adopted or killed.
Those animals will instead be redirected to the Chicago
Animal Care & Control Department. Owner-surrendered pets will still
be accepted, since they can be offered for rehoming right away.
“In exchange,” reported Claire Loebs Davis of Best Friends
Online, “the Anti-Cruelty Society plans to substantially increase
the number of legally adoptable animals it transfers out of animal
control to its facility, and to direct more resources toward its
spay/neuter, feral cat, and anti-dogfighting programs. “
The Anti-Cruelty Society already operates one of the dozen
most active nonprofit sterilization clinics in the world, handling
12,000 dogs and cats in 2003.
“The Anti-Cruelty Society also plans to construct the
Bruckner Animal Rehabilitation Center,” wrote Davis, “which will
feature over 100 spaces for long-term rehabilitation of animals with
treatable illnesses and behavior problems, as well as kittens and
puppies too young to adopt.
“The Anti-Cruelty Society hopes that centralizing all strays
in one city facility will help to improve Chicago’s dismal redemption
rate,” Davis added. The Chicago rate of reclaim of lost pets is
presently about 7%.
The Anti-Cruelty Society strategy is modeled after the
strategies followed by the San Francisco SPCA (1984), American SPCA
(1994), Wisconsin SPCA (1995-2000), Richmond SPCA (2001), and
Pennsylvania SPCA (2002). Each withdrew from animal control
functions in order to emphasize dog and cat sterilization and
The Pennsylvania SPCA relinquishment of the Philadelphia
animal control contract came too recently for available statistics to
show the impact, which typically becomes evident two to three years
after the transition.
Other cities whose animal control duties were formerly
handled by humane societies have achieved marked reductions in the
numbers of animals received and killed, combining data from all
local shelters, but animal control departments have often been
bitter about the division of duties, which leaves them doing most of
The concept behind the division is that animal control
agencies are limited in what they can do by what taxpayers are
collectively willing to fund, which is mostly protecting people from
animals. Nonprofit humane societies, funded by donations, can
provide any services that they can persuade contributors to support,
and tend to be able to raise much more money when they are not
confused with animal control agencies.
Chicago Animal Care & Control director of program services
Melanie Sobel bitterly attacked the Anti-Cruelty Society policy
change in a series of lengthy e-mails.
“We are already understaffed and underfunded,” Sobel
complained to Davis, “so to take in another 4,000 to 5,000 animals
is going to be difficult.”
However, Chicago Animal Care & Control is now receiving about 20,000
dogs and cats fewer per year than when the present shelter was
opened, in 1984, and about 10,000 fewer than in 1994.
Sobel’s criticisms were seconded by New York City Center for
Animal Care & Control chief Ed Boks. As Phoenix/Maricopa County
animal control chief, 1995-2003, Boks cut the county rate of
shelter killing in half by embracing high-volume adoption and
neuter/return rather than impoundment of feral cats, while the
nonprofit Arizona Humane Society maintained a traditional program.
Boks hopes to achieve similar results in New York City, through
rescue partnerships coordinated by the Mayor’s Alliance for New York
City Animals Inc., which has applied for a Maddie’s Fund grant to
make the city no-kill within five years.
American SPCA president Ed Sayres on May 23 committed $1
million per year for five years to support the Mayor’s Alliance.