Animal Care & Control, No Kill, Tough Decisions – Part II

by Mary Haight on September 22, 2010

There’s a new model of how to take a city no-kill and what has made news in Chicago is not something that is only a local matter to be dealt with, but should be useful for others to watch as no-kill open admission (taking all relinquished pets) moves across the country. 


I’d like to use what’s happening in Chicago, as parties allow, as a kind of real time  informal case study of what occurs in transitioning a major municipal shelter to no-kill.  We’ll ask inside sources and those in charge to contribute their useful  perspectives to see where communication, language, outreach to experts, and more volunteers on board can assist in implementing a change management plan, which I learned today is going to be done by experts from a management consultants firm.

The difficulties of conducting change without a budget to manage it is another serious problem that will require creative solutions.  However many “parts” this series may or may not have, the issue of teamwork between management, employees, community volunteers, and other helper organizations in and outside the industry will be key to making this work and what works will be included here.  If we get that far in this series.  As I said, this will require the time and cooperation of others. 

Animal Care and Control’s Transition Glitch

ACCs all have a central mission – accept every animal that is relinquished, protect public health and safety by keeping strays off the streets, redeem lost owned dogs, and end the lives of animals when space is no longer available in the facility.

Chicago’s off to a rocky start.  There are many factors involved, not the least of which is getting a handle on over-crowding. Starting the no kill program before a plan and it’s elements are in place to help handle volume will bring unnecessary pain and suffering to the animals and to the people trying to keep them healthy during the process. 

Over-crowding is a significant stressor on the animals and diseases accelerate in these conditions.  Steve Dale, syndicated columnist and host of a weekly WLS radio pet show (author, certified behaviorist and trainer) was just commenting on the previous post about feline distemper and how it develops in over-crowded conditions. 

According to sources, there are only thirteen cleaners for CACC with approximately 700 cages, many of which have been used with their dividers in, making cage space smaller. That means cleaning takes twice as long and is not as thorough as it needs to be. With a cleaning detail of 13, how likely is it that all cages are cleaned every day? This affects the health of all the animals in that pavillion.

Site Visit – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I went to CACC recently just because I thought it incumbent on me to see things for myself.  They just finished cleaning the dog pavillions; floors were wet. Several rooms of dogs were toured.  There was the occasional urine in the (empty) food or water dish the vet tech in the WGN report spoke of, and some poop here and there. There were cages with dividers used to accommodate more animals in smaller spaces. Overall, the majority were clean.

What wasn’t in good condition were the cat and mixed species areas.  The cleanliness of cat cages near the public area were maybe 50/50. The water was clean and food was provided, unlike some of the temporary cages in the hallways or the couple of cat cages in the public reception area that were barely big enough to contain the cats, with no room for a litter pan. I asked how long they were sitting there, and was told they had been there for several days.  Sunday sources reported two more dead cats found in their cages.

The loading area has a hodgepodge of mixed species in the small cages seen in vet clinics.  This was by far the worst area for cleanliness.

 What is sad but true here is this: While some cat carriers may have  contained animals brought in for TNR, there were several cage banks set up in hallways that looked neglected given the absence of food and empty water bowls. Granted, I don’t know the status of these animals. They may have been surgical candidates, but nothing indicated that.

Dying animals are better off euthanized. Tough decisions will need to be made by all directors.

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