Chicago Animal Care and Control Update; On Oprah?

by Mary Haight on September 7, 2010

It’s been a busy holiday(?) weekend, and a couple of updates are in order. There was a follow-up to the Animal Care and Control exposed story  aired on WGN September 4 that was a written response from Animal Care and Control. Some of you may have seen it on my FB page or elsewhere, but I’ll include it at the end of the post for those of you who missed it. 

To summarize, ACC responded through the press office saying there was no overcrowding at the facility(pants on fire!) and that at the time of the scheduled visit by the reporter there were no overcrowding problems to which statement the reporter agreed, but pointed out the documents WGN has clearly showing there are often nearly twice as many animals than space available. Imagine that. That is a real mess. Paula Fasseas, founder of PAWS, was quoted on the clip, blaming the overcrowding on the community.  I don’t agree.  It’s a lack of management issue.  And since the initial September 1st report, I haven’t heard anything to disspell that notion.

I knew this “it’s the community’s fault” was a popular refrain years ago, but hasn’t the narrative long since changed?  We really want the community to work with us, don’t we?  We don’t blame people for turning their animals in, and we don’t want them releasing their pets on the streets.

The irresponsible owners make a lot of noise in the news, but really they are a small percentage of the animal loving population (I believe Petsmart did a study on this). It’s incumbent on shelters to work with people, help match the right pet for their lifestyles, find affordable training, provide written, easy to follow simple training tips and general facts about dogs or cats as they leave, and follow up for success. There’s more, but that’s another conversation. I simply think that blaming the community is counterproductive. It may serve to spin the conversation away from some ugly facts here, but neither looking away nor silence is the way to go – especially when that silence is costing lives.

And then came the taping of an upcoming Oprah show on which the ACC Director Cherie Travis appears. Oprah said she’d heard there’s been some controversy  and Cherie laughed and said something about how she was just trying to save animals (this is from a friend who was in the audience, so no direct quotes, just concepts) . The problem with this is not just the laugh – however inappropriate, offensive, and arrogant that can appear to be.

The problem is that having Travis on Oprah’s show lends her credibility, gives her political cover, and actually confers Oprah’s blessing on her in the eyes of many people. with or without Oprah actually saying so.  And that’s what works to sweep things under the rug…important things that demand attention.

If you don’t think dead, dying and sick animals housed with healthy animals is a laughing matter, act now: send an email through the Oprah website   If at least 1000 respond, the show should pull her segment. If you care, don’t wait. Do it now please – there are only two days for this to happen or not. (There are several headings and emails so make sure you first go to the heading “The Oprah Show”  and click the second email under that heading, “send in your thoughts.”)  The shelter animals who deserve better thank you!

Oh, and a note on Steve Dale’s Facebook said that Travis has pointed her finger at him, saying it was at his behest that WGN went undercover (and actually found things worth exposing)! See me shaking my head. Guess it’s Dale’s fault that she’s not such a great manager? You can’t make this stuff up…

 

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23 comments
karma
karma

continued... Cherie has the ability to implement programs with drive, but sadly has extremely unbalanced and unpredictable behavior towards people. She will work with you one minute and stab you swift and hard in the next breath without provocation. Even with that said, with oversight she could do more good than evil, but that is the undying optomist in me. Cherie is politically protected and comingles among influencial animal advocates. While this can be her greatest assest she must not alienate the smaller rescues willing to help, PACT is small but deserving of respect and she should show the rescues working with CACC the respect she hoped to have while founding PACT. It has been to the dismay of Cherie to find deceased animals often, (in fact she raised kane), but to yell and discipline while continuing to stack , double up and demand more from a limited ever dwindling staff and rely on mechanisms and programs that are only fledgling to solve the issues immediatly has proven disasterous and at the cost of the well being of the animals.

karma
karma

When making a shift in philosophy there must be forethought. To begin lessening euthanasia by housing more animals there needs to be preperation including knowing what temporary housing wjll be used before cages are available, fosters in the wings, rescues scheduled, volunteer support for the extra work involved and increased veterinary oversight to determine illness and stress levels. Reducing manpower and putting too much too fast into the shelter is a recipe for the animals to become overcrowded, ill and poorly cared for due to all of the factors above. These are some of the reasons and in no way an excuse for what has occured. A community collaboration does not happen simply by announcing "we are full now Community and Rescues DO YOUR JOB" this will not work, relationships need to be built. I was optomistic that Cherie had enough ties in the rescue community from PACT to build a well managed transfer program, but that seems to have backfired due to alienating and belittling behavior coming from Cherie. Also announcing 300 cats that need rescue followed by a great weekend of 6 adoptions leads me to ask "what about the other 294? "

Mel
Mel

How convenient. Deflect. Deflect. Deflect. Blame the public, blame Steve Dale, blame WGN. Where is ACC's culpability in this? You mean they have none? Wow. So good to know they are so perfectly managed. Who knew? Working on my Oprah e-mail now.

Animal Defender
Animal Defender

No, I want the public to see just how arrogant this woman is. So please....air the segment! And tell EVERYONE to watch it.

Chris Dignan
Chris Dignan

Thanks Mary, I'm sending the word out to try and get the 1000 sigs for the Oprah piece and I'll try to keep the story going. Thanks for suggesting the FOIA Karma.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Thanks Mary. When the response to mismanagement of Animal Control is to blame the citizens of Chicago, you have to wonder why people actually think that's an argument. I think people just want to justify it in their minds. Not sure why anyone with zero experience in managing hundreds of animals would be given or even take the job. $$$ You would think if you loved animals, you would want better for them, she is clearly in over her head. I guess Mayor Daley doesn't view this Dept. as being very important.

Chris dignan
Chris dignan

Hey Mary, Totaly agree with your thoughts on Oprah and I'll send in my emails and encourage others to do so as well. What else can be done here? I'm not of the frame of mind to let this thing slide but could use some more direction as to what constites effective action. Thanks.

jan
jan

I'm very optimistic that the public is beginning to see that a well managed pet shelter can be a place where people can find lifelong friends. They don't have to be killing fields if people demand that they are run intelligently.

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