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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