To Adopt, Or Not To Adopt

The future of Evanston’s 27-year animal adoption program is suddenly in question. Do Evanston residents want, for their city, an animal adoption program plus animal rescue? Or a basic dog pound?

No words needed to describe the love CARE volunteers have for their charges.
No words needed to describe the love CARE volunteers have for their charges.

Recently the Community Animal Rescue Effort, an all-volunteer organization that has working together with the Evanston Animal Shelter since 1987, has come under fire on the question of dog evaluations.

The heated controversy has caused people to take sides. “All dogs must be saved at all costs”-adherents joust with the “bad dogs must be culled to keep the community safe and also make space for more good dogs” faction.

Regardless of which side is correct, I would submit that the controversy, which reaches up to the office of the Evanston Mayor, is putting in jeopardy something that I think Evanston animal-lovers on either side of the fence would agree: Having an animal shelter with a cat and dog adoption program within the City of Evanston is indeed worth preserving.

Waukegan Model Vs. Evanston Model

Some people have held up Waukegan’s Animal Control as a model to which Evanston should aspire. And indeed, that city police-operated facility rescues many great dogs by partnering with foster-home type rescue groups around Lake County. People seeking a new dog or cat from the Waukegan pound must start their adoption process from a distance, via email, phone or online applications. The city pound’s supporting volunteer group works off-site, raising money to help the pet-rescue mission.

Waukegan dogs and cats not lucky enough to be pulled by rescue groups, however, face a far grimmer future. After a set number of days—for most Waukegan animals that’s less than a month—the city of Waukegan will pay to send them to a high-kill shelter in Lake County. And that’s likely where their lives will end.  (This link will give you an sobering overview of dog and cat adoption statistics in the Chicago area.)

Evanston’s animal adoption picture is very different. If you want to adopt an animal in this town, you start by visiting the Evanston Animal Shelter or viewing their photos and detailed descriptions online at the C.A.R.E. website. Then you’ll work directly with C.A.R.E. cat and dog adoption counselors, who know each animal personally. You’ll meet dogs or cats who might be a good match, and have a chance to adopt them on full or trial basis.

Are there dogs at the Evanston shelter who don’t make it as far as the adoption list? Sadly, yes. But as with Waukegan--and any other shelter in the country-- that is today’s harsh reality. There are simply more dogs and cats in need of homes than there are homes.

Evanston's Animal Adoption Program In Jeopardy

The controversy now swirling about C.A.R.E. stems from the fact that volunteers cannot save all dogs. The issue has caused a few angry Evanston residents to demand that Evanston copy what Waukegan is doing.

If Evanston decides to eliminate adoptions at the shelter, and instead tries to send City's unwanted animals to already-swamped rescue organizations—then what? Setting aside temporarily the whole dog question, what will happen to the hundreds of cats who come through the Evanston shelter every year?

C.A.R.E. has an outstanding track record with cats, probably better than any other open-admission shelter in the Chicago area. Can the City find rescues able to handle the volume of cats who will need rehoming? What about juvenile kittens who need bottle feeding, FIV and FeLV cats? These unfortunates are routinely euthanized at other shelters.

Evanston Animal Shelter On City Chopping Block?

And finally, what will even happen to the Animal Shelter facility itself? Does the City have an eye on selling the Animal Shelter property? The shelter is an aging building, located in the midst of booming commercial development along Oakton.

It’s a little known fact that the City has dragged its feet on expanding the shelter, despite C.A.R.E.’s willingness to donate a significant amount to expand the facility to make it a more suitable humane facility. (In fact, Evanston has already blocked another non-profit organization, the Evanston Baseball and Softball Association, from investing in and taking over the property next door, the former Recycling Center, saying they wanted it to be used for profit since it's in a valuable commercial corridor. Click here for a Tribune article showing how EBSA was treated by Evanston.)

Regardless of where you stand on the question of dog euthanasia, please answer THIS question first:

Do you want Evanston to continue have an animal adoption/animal rescue program, which it has now in C.A.R.E.? Or would a basic pound, with 20 days maximum stay, be better?


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jim January 29, 2014 at 02:09 PM
Diane Moe January 30, 2014 at 12:54 PM
The warden is indeed given a summary of why a dog failed the behavior evaluation along with a recommendation to euthanize for not. Also, in the case of Jesse, he was scheduled to be retested, but the warden made the decision to euthanize him before the retest was done. Pretty much all dogs that fail their behavior evaluation are retested after 2 weeks to see if there is improvement. Sometimes a dog may be restested several times for example when they are very shut down during the evaluation.
Alisa Kaplan January 30, 2014 at 01:24 PM
This was addressed earlier. Warden Teckler sent Linda Gelb (President and behavior evaluator), an email at 8:30 AM stating that Jessie would be euthanized. Linda Gelb wrote back "Thank you." She gave no indication whatsoever that there were plans to retest her.
Karen Straus January 30, 2014 at 02:03 PM
Diane -- A summary is not the same as access to the full evaluation.


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