Chicago’s Animal Care & Control on Oprah

by Mary Haight on October 6, 2010

Oprah had a great show dedicated to animals the other day and I hadn’t had a chance to watch the DVR until last night. Given that I had posted previously on why Oprah might want to look into what’s happening at ACC before putting the director on her show, I must respond, but only because what was said reduced something that was important. 

Oprah asked Travis several times about why she is getting so much flack and focused the question on one point only, that of having too many animals.  The replies offered may have sounded reasonable.  But here’s what people need to know: People who are speaking out against conditions at ACC are not doing so because, and let me get Travis’s quote here right,

 “people aren’t used to seeing a shelter that has, is full of animals I think that people walk into a shelter that’s empty or they don’t see as many animals in cages they feel better about it but all that means is they euthanize more animals…”

People  are speaking out against what’s happening at ACC because cruelty is occurring as a result of overcrowding. Stress in animals in an over-capacity shelter is not the stress you feel from work.  It’s a prelude to a cascade of dead animals, mostly cats. Don’t believe me, ask your vet, or listen to the vet on the original WGN report

  • Overcrowding is not just too many animals in cages.
  • Overcrowding is not having cages for animals accepted.
  • Overcrowding means cats living in cat carriers, without litter pans, without room for water or food, without room to turn around or even move. 
  • Overcrowding means animals are left in their own waste, not fed, not given water.
  • Overcrowding causes so much stress in animals that they can and do die of it. 

That’s 24/7 cruelty.  And that is what overcrowding means. This coupled with several dead cats found in their cages over weeks was alarming.  It was known that three vets, including the chief veterinarian, had left and there were only two part-time vets available for 700 animals. Euthanasia needs had to be shunted to other agencies because no vet left in the facility had the license to order the drugs needed. You bet there was flack. 

When you don’t know what questions to ask, you can’t really know what’s wrong and why. We are still waiting for answers on the cats found dead in their cages. Have conditions improved? We don’t know.  No follow up on the story so far. 

No one is advocating killing healthy adoptable animals here. It is not a case of Travis just wanting to save animals from being killed and anyone who complains about conditions must want to kill them. There are serious management and welfare concerns here. 

Spay neuter is very important in reducing the number of animals that reach any Animal Care and Control facility.  A post at Steve Dale’s blog at ChicagoNow talks about alternatives to mandatory spay neuter, found to an expensive unenforce law.  But equally important are all the other programs that all shelters focus on to keep pets in their homes, not the least of which is shelters working together, as with the Chicago Animal Shelter Alliance, to get more animals adopted.  That is another reason for Chicago’s success in cutting numbers killed in half in five years. 

Is it ever so easy, as Travis stated at the end of her segment, that just one magic bullet -sterilization – will solve the problem?  What do you think?

Enhanced by Zemanta
21 comments
@psa2
@psa2

The funding issues are a real consideration, with regard to rescues-vs-a city run shelter, as ex-emp pointed out. The attitude from the general public needs to change with regard to shelters and the like. They have the impression that these facilities will just be able to take care of everything. They cannot. Stop allowing animals to reproduce randomly. Stop the apathy. ____All of this is indicitative, in many ways of how our society operates as a whole. It doesn't matter what Oprah did or didn't do... the problem still exists.

@psa2
@psa2

I would like nothing better than to see every animal shelter, humane society, rescue (what's next?) disappear because they wouldn't be needed. But that won't happen. Why is is so hard for people to act humanely, responsibly and with the care that animals deserve? Get them spayed/neutered - when the age/health/physical maturity is there, of course. ____Also, people need to understand their pets' breed - and yes, even cats. Each breeds' characteristics are unique, and sometimes more than a person without experience can handle. A border collie in an apartment? A terrier/beagle mix cooped up all day while everyone's at work? Just brief example's of recipes for disaster, when a pet owner can't figure out "Why is Fido misbehaving? Why can they just act better?" Total lack of real understanding, for the most part.____

@psa2
@psa2

I guess that the bottom line is that there are too many animals. Why? Because we, the humans that have the rationale to be able to do something to curb the problem - spay/neuter - hence reducing the number of pets that cannot, and will not be properly cared for. If more people took responsibility and did this, situations like this would be rare. As far as mandatory spay/neuter goes though, it's not enforceable. ____

veryvizsla
veryvizsla

You mean that for once Oprah could have been a "serious" journalist for once? She is the queen of the softball questions. So much, infact, that celebrities in need of "damage control" will only go to her 'cause she'll never ask anything embarrasing or difficult to answer. Oprah do something tough, uncomfortable or hard? Puh-leaze!!

ex-emp
ex-emp

Granted, in the past there has been talk of privatizing CACC. but consider this: After notifying supervisors and administration and getting no results, staff filed complaints with OSHA and IDOL. These complaints were not about working too hard, they were legitimate safety issues. Then the mayor wants to privatize the feeding and cleaning position-the same people that filed complaints. Then there was the report of cruelty and neglect on channel 9 news. And a flurry of activity to spiffy up-finish the ceilings, brighten hall lights,polish floors just in case a V.I.P. drops in. And Travis stays in her office keeping a low profile and waiting. The OPRAH Show airs and co-incidently Travis heads downtown with a plan to privatize. My understanding of privatize is that the entire job title is eliminated then the job is contracted out. Unless she uses budget cuts to rationalize laying off more than half that position-which by the way are the same staff that filed complaints. Now there is an emergency situation- too many animals, not enough staff-and she can contract out, wait until those people are trained, then eliminate that position and get rid of the remaining staff. Could this be called retaliation?

ex-emp
ex-emp

Now there's talk of a plan to lay off 6-8 of the 13 staff caring for the animals and contracting out the work. This is not what privatizing is about. Could this be in retaliation for all the bad publicity CACC has been getting lately?

ex-emp
ex-emp

Yes, there is a need for "euthanasia needs". Animals are dying, too sick and weak to move out of their own feces. Not enough vets, time, money or romm to isolate and treat all of them. Hundreds of animals have been euthanized in the past month just to make room for more coming in. As long as there are dogs in half cages,there is overcrowding. There is NOT ENOUGH people to clean and care for all those animals. Staff is working double shifts just to try to keep up. And for someone to say DO THEIR JOBS, you're aiming at the wrong people. Aim at the top!

alice smith
alice smith

Kind of hard to be a breeder if you cannot sell any animals Kim.. do you suggest that breeders give their animals away? or if you PAY for a breeders license that you then give your animals away.. You are awre that when people pay for things they value them more right? Author.. your words "euthanasia needs" are cruel and unfeeling.. there NO need for killing.. perhaps a cat would rather sit in some feces for an hour or tow rather than be killed.. I know I would .. If animals are not fed.. FIRE the people caring for them..pretty simple..cages not cleaned.. FIRE those people who do not clean cages.. overcrowding is not 24/7 cruelty..it is mismanagement..stop blaming the public and ask those that are being paid to DO THEIR JOBS..

kim
kim

I saw the Oprah show that you are referring to and I must admit that the dire conditions you've described did not come out at all. I don't understand that and I'm very surprised that Oprah's staff wasn't more diligent in their reporting or investigation before having her on the show. In any event, what will solve the problem? The problem is no only enormous but it has also gotten out of control. I don't think just sterilization with solve it but of course it would help - it should be mandatory. But also, every single puppy mill should be shut down, no more selling animals - period - and any breeder out there should be put at a much higher standard. As it is now, it's pretty easy to get a breeders license. But the biggest thing that will solve the problem is to give animals some rights!

Previous post:

Next post: