Chicago’s Animal Care and Control – New Incident

by Mary Haight on November 8, 2010

After I read the email, I felt I could do nothing less than give this person space in a post. She poses an interesting question about the media:

Ellen Graham commented on Chicago’s Animal Care and Control: WGN Pulls Story – Dancing Dog Blog:

“If I could show proof as a citizen of the City of Chicago that three of my cats, Daisy, Iz, and Boo were at Animal Care and Control’s facility by mistake, that I was unable to locate them or pick them up from the facility for 5 days because of incompetent, rude and uncompassionate staff, and that they contracted the deadly virus Panleukopenia, while in that facility for 5 days, causing one of them to die (Boo) and the other two (Iz & Daisy) to be violently ill for weeks and still suffer with residual symptoms, would the media be willing to run a story regarding the serious problems at ACC and Cherie Travis’ lack of professionalism and inept ability to run to this facility?

This story should be put out there so that citizens of the City of Chicago and all over the country are aware how Cherie Travis and her staff are managing and treating animals in this facility. Any assistance anyone can give me to ensure that this does happen to ANY OTHER within this facility would be greatly appreciated.”

I had heard this story from other sources, but had not been contacted by the individual until now.  She poses an interesting question.  How many stories like this do media people need before they act?  

With all the incidents that continue at Chicago’s Animal Care and Control, we are beginning to see its not only the animals in the facility or the employees that are being mismanaged, but here’s something that has affected a citizen – someone not involved in the industry, but who shows the effect that mismanagement can have.  We know that this feline disease has a gestation period of  less than 14 days and extraordinary stress can speed up that timeline. You’ll have to watch the video linked above for the details of this story.  How many more are out there who have said nothing or just complained to an alderman who may have taken not much notice of it as a singular event?

There were several items I wanted to mention and ask questions about on Steve Dale’s radio show  on Saturday, but was completely distracted by my suddenly sick dog (apologies to Steve), one of which items had to do with abuse in the workplace complaints. Apparently one complaint was acknowledged as true by the City according to sources and I wanted to know if he might know more, because he usually does (see Dale’s blog here). Other points of interest as reported by sources: Firings continue, though more people who were fired won their cases and are back on the job with back pay. Even employees who have been lauded as most valuable by a previous director, with 20 years on the job have been fired recently – no reason. You have to wonder if this mess is being created on purpose, to show that no one can or will do anything about it. 

The Director may also have kept her position at PACT the trap-neuter-release rescue she came from – I would think there was a conflict of interest here unless I am mistaken and some agreement in employment contract was made in this regard.  Seems a lot of accommodations have been made in this appointment with little in the way of background checks, but then the City has never been particular about who leads ACC as long as it causes them no headaches.  Ah the irony of it all.

31 comments
Former-chicagoan
Former-chicagoan

Ugh this is so depressing. We had such a good experience there. We adopted our dog from the CACC almost 3 years ago. He was a stray with an unknown background who ended up having a mild pneumonia (I don't blame that on the shelter). He was only at the shelter for a few days before we adopted him. Anyway at the time, it wasn't over crowded and was kept pretty clean. Our dog was fixed and had a small hernia fixed before we could take him home. It was always busy there but that was before the economy hit the fan, so I can't imagine the amount of animals they must be taking in now. Still, that is no excuse. It sounds like this new manager is not qualified to be doing this job. I am sure the budget is being slashed, but they can't let the animals suffer. I no longer live in Chicago or IL, but I sincerely hope something is fixed at the ACC before the winter. Or that the other private shelters can pick up the slack.

Steve Dale
Steve Dale

So much to say....First, Ellen I am so very sorry. People should know I have heard too too too many similar stories. My heart breaks for you. Mary, you have been a wonderful journalist...some press has covered this, as you know, but where are our daily newspapers? Personally, I've not been responsive lately because I have been traveling, at a CATalyst Council Board meeting also in KC at the Society of Animal Welfare Administrator meeting. IN A SESSION, I was asked to comment on CACC, and many others approached me while I was there, essentially saying, 'Glad we're not in Chicago.' Yes, word has spread. And there's more I can't even put here.... Also, i have said this publicly and will continue to do so, as another employee, a man I've know ever since his days at the zoo was fired....I don't know what every employee does, and I don't work at CACC so I can't comment on day to day what people are like...but I will say I have known many of these individuals for years and I have their backs the best I can....They are good (GREAT) people who are there because they care, they have knowledge and skill - we have some of the best in Chicago, and I have articulated this to people who should be listening, and if they wanted to - have the ability to do something about it. Animal Defender, keep defending. For anyone who has doubt about what you say or what others here and Mary has said....it's been confirmed to me repeatedly. Astounding we've come from where we were to this.

Animal Defender
Animal Defender

Also Mary, the violence in the workplace issues....it is pretty widely rumored around the facility that three complaints were entered against Travis, and in all three there were violations of the City policy sustained and found true. The response from the Mayors office...again this is rumor....was to give Travis one suspension day. One day only! If this was anyone else with THREE complaints that were found to be true, they would be out of there so fast it would make your head spin. I would really love to know what is keeping this lady so protected? It is also highly whispered that the new Animal Care Aide Supervisor they hired in August lives in Addison, is Cherie's friend, and spends at least 20 minutes in Cherie's office every single day giving up the dirt on her fellow employees. How is that being allowed to continue? This again fuels the atmosphere of complete and total mistrust of ones co-workers in that place. For a department that small that has the IG all over it like flies on trash.... There are unspeakable things here that nobody wants to question or talk about, with the exception of the blogs and Marcella Raymond.

Lorie Huston
Lorie Huston

Hi, Mary. My understanding, through speaking with you privately, is that all three of the cats in question were up-to-date on vaccinations and the diagnosis of feline panleukopenia was verified by the shelter veterinarian. If those facts are true, there are some areas of concern here. In answer to your question, I do not often see cats that have been vaccinated against feline panleukopenia developing the disease. Normally, the vaccine provides reasonably good protection. Though we recommend re-vaccinating periodically, many researchers believe that immunity to the feline panleukopenia virus may persist for 7 years or even longer. So, this situation (in which three vaccinated cats allegedly contracted feline panleukopenia) is rare. My suspicion is that stress may have played a role here. If the cat's were exposed to the conditions you describe, there certainly would have been stress involved. That stress could have blunted their ability to mount an adequate immune response and made them more susceptible to viral infection. Another possibility is that these cats were exposed to a new variant of the feline panleukopenia virus which their previous vaccinations did not protect them against. However, I am not aware of any other reports of similar problems elsewhere and have not yet read anything that would indicate that a newly emerging variant of the virus has been identified to date. Another remote possibility is that the vaccinations that these cats received previously were for some reason ineffective. I would consider this to be a relatively unlikely scenario but it's one that cannot be dismissed entirely without knowing more about the vaccination history (i.e. what vaccine was used, was it administered properly, was the vaccine cared for properly prior to administration, etc.) I'm really just trying to cover all the angles here by mentioning this.

Rama Sidhu
Rama Sidhu

Mary thanks for the suggestion for contacting Steve Dale, I have contacted him but have not heard back as yet. Do you have any other suggestions. You might be quite surprised, Ellen and I hit the streets and have obtain 100+ signatures in one hour.. Just goes to show you that there are people that care and will use their voice to make a difference. AGAIN EVERYONE PLEASE GO TO & TELL AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN TO GO TO: http://www.petitiononline.com/BooBoo/petition.htm... AND SIGN BOO'S PETITION. thank you

Animal Defender
Animal Defender

Ex said everything I wanted to say, but on behalf of the decent people at ACC, Ellen, I am so sorry this happened to you. I am just hoping you brought this to the attention of the Inspector General and management at ACC as well as doing what you are doing. Baffles me that they cannot find paperwork, when every animal since October of last year is entered in to a computer system. Still cannot figure that one out. However, I do not think it fair to paint everyone at ACC with the incompetent/rude/uncaring brush with this blog post. This gives the department a black eye, when the attention needs to focus on the lack of proper leadership, and the hoarding that continues to go on there.

Rama Sidhu
Rama Sidhu

Thanks for your comment and signing for signing the petition. While I appreciate that we need people from Chicago to help the cause and sign the petition, I believe anyone that believes in the cause, and wants to help, no matter where they are from, should sign. I think its great that people from other countries are shocked and mortified by Ellen's cats experience and our willing to sign their names on the petition to make their opinions known and help make a change.

MaryHaight
MaryHaight

Hi Rama - I know you and Ellen are working to get something done at Animal Care and Control, but people who don't live in Chicago won't help the cause as much as the target audience people who pay taxes to support this facility. You might ask Steve Dale at his blog on http:///www.ChicagoNow.com or better yet over at his FB page.

Ellen
Ellen

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments and kind words. If you could help me by signing your names to the Petition as well as forwarding the petition to your friends and family to sign, it would help me tremendously. You can sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/BooBoo/petition.html. We are also planning to have a rally in front of CACC on Wednesday November 10th, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. If you or any of your friends would like to come and voice your opinions maybe we can get someone to listen and do something. Thank you again.

Deborah FLick
Deborah FLick

This is an outrage! Not only the treatment at the facility but that media pulled the story and might be caving in to coercion. Thank you Mary for keeping the issue in the news.

ex-emp
ex-emp

{cont}Ever since Cherie Travis was appointed director,Animal Control has become an embarrassment to the city. Call every news station and paper. Call the mayor's office. Call all the aldermen. Call Paula Fasseas at PAWS Tell them it's time to cut Travis loose, she's done enough damage. Maybe someone will listen and you'll get the results the staff at ACC has been trying to get. I truly wish you success.

ex-emp
ex-emp

While I am truly sorry about Boo, in defence of the staff at Animal Control, . You can't paint all the people with one brush. All it takes is one person, and when that one person is looking for ANY reason to eliminate staff you can be sure that staff is going to be extra careful to follow eash rule to the letter. It's frustrating to know you can't right a wrong without being fired. The staff DOE'S care about the animals, they wouldn't be working under such deplorable conditions if they didn't. There is just not enough people to care for all the animals. Imagine walking in day after day and seeing row after row of filthy cages filled with animals that need attention and knowing there's no way you can take care of them all. It shatters your pride in being able to do your job. It makes you feel helpless and hopeless because it seems like no one cares or is willing to do something to stop it.

PetsAdviser.com
PetsAdviser.com

Sorry to hear about this story. I hope people wake up to how this is affecting real people, real animals. I haven't been following this, but perhaps budget cuts might be partly to blame? (I said partly... this kind of thing could never be blamed just on money; it's no doubt systemic mismanagement/neglect, and the ACC needs to be cleaned out ASAP.)

Helen
Helen

I feel sick to my stomach reading about poor Ellen's cats and you just want to go out and rescue them all. I hope your dog is feeling better.

Justine
Justine

This is so horrible. Please be kind to animals, no need to hurt them! Love, Wet Nose Guide

Lorie Huston
Lorie Huston

My heart goes out to the commentor who lost one cat and had to deal with two other cats that were seriously ill as a result of their "visit" to the animal care and control facility. What a horrible experience!! I have no hard and fast answers for the questions that plaque this facility beyond the need to provide transparency and accountability. But certainly, hearing of suspicions that the media is not reporting news from the facility and may even be responding to coercion is, at the least, concerning. Thank you, Mary, for bringing these issues to light. (And in the interest of disclosure, I don't live in Chicago. However, I do feel that issues involving animal lives affect all us.)

Kristine
Kristine

This is disgusting. Does no one care at all? I don't understand. I hope your dog is feeling better.

Amy@GoPetFriendly
Amy@GoPetFriendly

My heart goes out to Ellen. Thank you for speaking up and sharing your story - I can only hope that it has an impact in making things better for the animals suffering in the care of ACC.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dianne , Kim Clune and Doggy Bytes, Drypet. Drypet said: Chicago Animal Care and Control Citizen's Complaint | Dancing Dog Blog: It's not just industry insiders complain… http://bit.ly/9Mz6qF […]

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