Evanston Aldermen Recommend Cutting Ties With C.A.R.E.

Animal welfare group may be on its way out in managing the Evanston Animal Shelter after two decades after contentious debate at subcommittee meeting.

C.A.R.E. representatives at a subcommittee meeting to discuss improving operations at the Evanston Animal Shelter, from left, Yvette Granberry, Linda Gelb, C.A.R.E. president, Gail Lovinger-Goldblatt.
C.A.R.E. representatives at a subcommittee meeting to discuss improving operations at the Evanston Animal Shelter, from left, Yvette Granberry, Linda Gelb, C.A.R.E. president, Gail Lovinger-Goldblatt.

Two Evanston aldermen recommended severing ties with the animal welfare group that has helped the city run its municipal animal shelter for the past 25 years.

Volunteers from the Community Animal Rescue Effort, or C.A.R.E. were handed a list of requests at a subcommittee meeting last week, and were asked to come up with ideas for improving operations at the Evanston Animal Shelter. 

The subcommittee was formed after questions arose about the C.A.R.E.’s handling of behavioral evaluations, which resulted in spike of euthanized dogs.

“It would help if you could clarify what the charge of this subcommittee is,” C.A.R.E. volunteer Gail Lovinger-Goldblatt asked before Tuesday’s meeting got started.

“To see if we can continue working together to create the best animal shelter that this community deserves,” Ald. Mark Tendam (6th Ward) said.

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C.A.R.E. volunteers were on the defensive as they read off their ideas for improving transparency and record-keeping at the animal shelter.

The animal welfare group’s long-time board president, Linda Gelb, said most of the shelter’s records, including 18 dogs formerly slated for euthanasia now living in foster homes, were kept off-site in a private storage unit or else at Gelb’s home.

“The shelter has no room,” Gelb said.

"Those records belong the city," Ald. Judy Fiske (1st Ward) replied.

The C.A.R.E. subcommittee members were also hard-pressed to answer questions about the number of foster homes in its pool, an area identified by two studies in need of improvement. The group oversees shelter adoptions and manages the care of about 100 unclaimed dogs left at the shelter each year.

Most of the discussion focused on C.A.R.E.’s adoption program and behavioral evaluations administered by volunteers.

“One of the comments I get from people who adopt from C.A.R.E. is that they’re uncomfortable using your trainers, they’re turned off,” Fiske said. “They’re not given a choice of which trainers to use. At some point your participation in the adoption needs to end. There seems to be so much control over the entire adoption process.”

Concerned volunteers, as well as two independent studies, have recommended that C.A.R.E. discontinue evaluating dogs' temperament until the board's hand-picked volunteer evaluators -- including Gelb -- could demonstrate that the tests were being performed according to industry standards.

At one point, Fiske told Lovinger-Goldblatt to “tone it down” during questioning of C.A.R.E.’s behavioral evaluations and euthanasia rate in the three years leading up to 2013. Almost half of shelter’s dogs were recommended for euthanasia.

“This need to go back to 2012 and to keep going over and over it doesn’t seem to be a valuable part of going forward,” Lovinger-Goldblatt said.

Fiske said that euthanasia rates have drastically decreased due in large part to the city's animal warden pulling dogs recommended by C.A.R.E. for euthanasia and placing them with recuse groups.

“I’m one of many, many people in Evanston that up to the point where I became involved, I just trusted that C.A.R.E. was doing what it was supposed to be doing. I also think the animal warden had a lot to do and she was taking recommendations,” Fiske said. “I just need to be assured that if we are to continue our relationship we’re not going back to 2010, 2011 or 2012.”

At the end of the evening, both aldermen told C.A.R.E. they didn’t think a continued partnership with the city was possible.

“For me the bottom line is I don’t see a willingness by C.A.R.E. to change,” Tendam said. “I think you’ve not only demonized dogs that you don’t see as adoptable, you demonized the people who are making this work and helping the city. You don’t give me reason to believe any partnership is possible.”

Tandem then motioned to sever ties with the group and to forge ahead finding a new partner and/or explore different shelter models.

“I find it interesting because we thought were addressing a lot of concerns. C.A.R.E. has taken a major hit and I’m not sure how volunteers involved have been demonized,” Lovinger-Goldblatt said. “We came to you in good faith with a recommendation of things we were willing to change. I don’t think our changes were listened to.”

The subcommittee, including Fiske and Tendam, voted 5-2 to end the shelter’s relationship with C.A.R.E.

The animal welfare group’s leadership -- Gelb and Lovinger-Goldblatt -- cast the dissenting votes. One of their representatives had to leave the meeting early.

“I think the decision was made before we got here,” Gelb said afterward.

Alisa Kaplan, one of the volunteers that often found herself at odds with C.A.R.E.’s leadership and who brought the shelter’s high euthanasia rate to city officials’ attention, said she was sorry it turned out the way it did.

"But I don’t think there was any possibility of meaningful change within the organization,” she said.

The subcommittee’s recommendation will go back to the Human Services Committee on March 3, before being kicked up for a full vote by the Evanston City Council.

Dan February 20, 2014 at 02:08 PM
Demos: if the policies of the facility in Waukegan are implemented your problems are largely solved. Besides, who cares about volunteers who turn a blind eye to dog killings at such an alarmingly high number year in and out until the cops come knocking at your door? I'd rather throw peanuts at a gay bar known for romances at the other side of a perforated wall if it were legal. And the Joseph Mengele like warden is now painted as a humane dog rights advocate? She needs to be hauled into epd's station for questioning!
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 03:08 PM
Dan you clueless. Find out what polices are then comment
Jordan S. Zoot February 20, 2014 at 03:15 PM
z.....given the gibberish and BS that has come from CARE's leadership Dan's comment makes perfect sense. When this situation is looked at on an overall basis the euthanasia issue is the easiest one to solve. The financial issues are a much more serious concern.
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 03:25 PM
Since the Waukegan Animal Shelter is working on changing there policy. What does your sidekick Expect Evanston to follow?
Dan February 20, 2014 at 04:09 PM
Dan February 20, 2014 at 04:15 PM
Z: your mentality suggests to me that you probably think Barry Marquez should tell his victims he does not sign prenupts. I can not memorize an encyclopedia of policies of any agency. I simply know CARE is negligent and it is likely that is far less prevelant in Waukegan. A ford is not a rolls Royce but it will get you to where you need to go just as well. To Zoot, what floats your boat.....?
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 04:54 PM
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 05:32 PM
sounds like one of your GOOD Friends Dan. Don't think I should mess up the sound advice he thinks he getting from you
Reader February 20, 2014 at 05:40 PM
Ms. Demos, I'm not sure where you got your information, but I have heard nothing of the sort. The plan is to implement CURRENT BEST PRACTICES, which other area shelters have done successfully, and which CARE is neither doing, nor expressed any willingness to do. It is true that, thanks to Aldermen Fiske and Tendam, the dogs will no longer be subjected to an outdated, inappropriately used, improperly executed, and inaccurately interpreted test. To say there will be "no temperament evaluations" or that decisions will be made unilaterally by the animal warden in the absence any cooperation with rescue organizations, trainers and other experts, fosters, etc. is just plain false. Though coming from a CARE apologist, I guess that's not surprising. Other communities have managed to find foster and forever homes for almost all of their animals, and they handle many more than CARE does. Unless you think that Evanston's people are less caring than people in Waukegan or any number of neighboring communities, I am sure plenty of people will step up to the plate.
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 05:47 PM
Reader you saying no more ASPCA TESTING?
Reader February 20, 2014 at 05:57 PM
What Fiske and Tendam requested, which CARE showed great resistance to, is that they should not do any more formalized testing until it can be determined that it is being performed and interpreted correctly. Even then, it should only be used appropriately, which is NOT to determine which dogs to euthanize, as is CARE's practice, but to gather information to help guide appropriate training and placement.
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 06:03 PM
just let the Dogs be adopted and move on to the next one huh.
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 07:03 PM
almost sounds like a trick question to me Reader
bob b. February 20, 2014 at 08:51 PM
Unless you've worked in a shelter kennel, I'm not sure most folks know what kind of environment it is. Loud, stressful, and frightening for most dogs. Some dogs come in who are so frightened, so utterly terrified that they'd rather pee and poop in their cage than come anywhere near a human. And as far as the Evanston shelter population is concerned, critics of CARE can thank their fellow Evanston neighbors for supplying the shelter with many dogs who are overbred, abused, sick, neglected, distrusting of humans, woefully untrained, unvaccinated, unwanted and sometimes downright scary. If any of the CARE critics want to take a stab at walking one of these fearful, reactive dogs, I invite you to give it a try. Imagine approaching the cage of a terrified, snarling, growling dog with teeth bared. They might even be throwing themselves against the cage door in a desperate and fearful attempt to get the heck out of that cage. Now imagine having to open that cage, get a hold of their collar, attach a leash, and get that guy out of his cage and out the door of the kennel, all the while trying to prevent him from going after you (or another dog), and biting your hands/arms/legs/clothing. Does this sound like something you'd be wiling to do? Now imagine taking this dog into your home, with your kids, your other pets, your family. Would you do it? Would you take that risk? Of course not all dogs are like this, thankfully, but many are. Not all dogs can be saved. And to leave this dog in a cage for 23+ hours a day is cruel. If you'd like to see what kind of effect this amount of time in a cage has on a dog, just ask any CARE volunteer. Incessant salivation to the point where they're entire kennel and their whole bodies are soaking wet. Weight loss, constant spinning in circles in their cage, utter fear, defeat. It's just cruel. The only respite these dogs have is when CARE volunteers come in at night and on the weekends and walk them 2-3 times a shift, feed them, play with them, or sometimes just sit quietly with them outside their cage and allow them a few minutes of quiet. For the warden or other detractors to recommend removing some of these dogs from the shelter and handing them over to a 'rescue' organization where they will simply be put in another cage or housed in a cage at a vet clinic is just as cruel. I invite critics to ask the warden where the dogs that were removed within the last year are currently. Are they still in cages at rescue orgs? Have they been adopted? And for those who are adamantly opposed to euthanasia, I invite you to take one of these dogs into your home and either foster or adopt them. Their are plenty of these dogs to go around, both in Evanston and other area shelters. Who is willing to take that risk? Anyone?
bob b. February 20, 2014 at 08:58 PM
And, to reiterate, no dog has ever been euthanized without the approval and consent of Warden Linda Teckler, an employee and representative of the city of Evanston. All the euthanasias that folks are critical of required her approval to go forward. All of them.
Jordan S. Zoot February 20, 2014 at 09:05 PM
The euthanasia point has been beaten to death. The more significant issue seems to be financial malfeasance, refusal to provide public records to the City and belligerence. The continued whining and carping that repeats what has been said a half dozen times helps nothing. In all of the comments here there hasn't been a single post where the leadership of CARE has countered with changes they proposed to make, etc. At this point, they seem to be adopting a take it or leave it approach and daring the City to toss them. Well....the should be careful about what they are asking for....it looks like they are going to get booted and for the most part they are their own worst enemies. Ms. Gelb has project a personality which has about as much personal appeal as Jeffrey Dahlmer.
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 09:14 PM
Quite frankly Jordan I don't think the City asked for any records of any kind. I think they needed to review some if not all of the records of the dogs that were put down. Why haven't the city employees been question. Seems they are responsible also> They getting a pass?
bob b. February 20, 2014 at 09:22 PM
Lastly, the "high euthanasia rate" attributed to CARE should, in all fairness, be labeled the "high euthanasia rate" of Warden Linda Teckler and the city of Evanston. The city owns and runs the shelter. If the warden was really troubled by the number of dogs being euthanized, she and her superiors at the city of Evanston had all the power to do something. How much oversight occurs when it comes to the warden's job performance? Shouldn't the city have addressed these concerns previously? Where have they been the last 20+ years? Who is accountable on the city side for the actions of the warden?
Jordan S. Zoot February 20, 2014 at 09:27 PM
Z you may be correct....my point was the records do need to be produced and reviewed. If they aren't forthcoming that is a real problem. As I said the euthanasia issue seems to be the most straight forward of the problems to solve. There seem to be a number of examples of how to do a better job and therefore the problem is implementation. The more serious issues with regard to CARE possibly having raised money under false pretenses should be of much greater concern to the authorities and the taxpayers.
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 09:50 PM
Actually the Issue is and the reason the Alderperson want to cancel is the euthanasia. Never heard what the arrangement CARE has with the City CARE also sold the Pet Licenses for adopted pets as well as the Fee which covers various expenses. Vet, Micro Chip not what else. Personally I think this decision was made prior to forming of this committee and this was nothing more then a D & P Show
Jordan S. Zoot February 20, 2014 at 09:56 PM
You may be correct. The issue I have tried to point out which I believe was missed centers on the commitment that CARE had made with the City with regard to a new facility. If people had donated to CARE having been told that funds were to be earmarked for the new facility and the use of the funds had been removed from the project they were committed to that is a real problem under the Illinois Charities statutes and Lisa Madigan's office would be all over it...and they certainly should look at it given the amounts involved.
Mildred February 20, 2014 at 10:04 PM
The deal you refer to was in 2006. Appears neither party did anything. I do know from attending some fund raisers that it was still in plans. Perhaps City wants to move arts center to that area.
Jordan S. Zoot February 20, 2014 at 10:32 PM
I have read some discussion that there may be more to it....what they need to do is simple and that is get their hands around what is going on. If there is no problem...great its one more thing under control.....and one less crisis. Perhaps they could combine the Arts Center and the Animal Shelter into a single facility. That would have some interesting possibilities.
Beth Wyatt February 21, 2014 at 12:18 AM
Bob, what happened to the dogs Care wanted to euthanize was covered at the city council meeting. There were people there who had these dogs in their homes. They talked about how their dogs should not have been euthanized. Some of them cried at the thought that they could have been.
bob b. February 21, 2014 at 11:36 AM
Evanstonian - I understand that a few dogs taken from the shelter are now in homes, some permanent, some foster. I'm sure the tearful accounts of the adopters were compelling. But please don't assume that all dogs removed from the shelter by the warden and sent to 'rescues' are living happy, healthy lives in permanent homes. It's simply not true. Some are still living in cages, just in another location. And many, many will likely never find anyone to adopt them and place them in their homes because they're simply too dangerous.
Frank Leeza February 21, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Bob, go check your facts. Detailed updates of the dogs were distributed at the meeting and I was curious because I've worked in rescue so I followed up and talked to the rescues and the people who adopted them. One single dog is in boarding, and 17 of the 18 dogs are in loving homes and most of them have been permanently adopted. They were not "too dangerous." That is just Care propaganda to justify their actions in the past years. And Bob, if you can't understand that dogs are often not themselves in a cage and that doesn't mean they can't do great in a home, I'm not sure why you're working in a shelter. It's exactly attitudes like yours that are responsible for needlessly killing all these dogs.
bob b. February 21, 2014 at 12:02 PM
Frank - I'm just saying your unwavering trust in their stats should be re-examined.
Frank Leeza February 21, 2014 at 12:12 PM
Bob, I just said that I did not have unwavering trust so I *followed up*. It's possible that your unwavering trust in Care should be reexamined.
bob b. February 21, 2014 at 12:40 PM
You are correct, Frank. Dogs are not always themselves in cages. But when the same behaviors exhibit themselves repeatedly in the cage, in a quiet room, around other dogs, walking to and from the building and outside walking down the street or in the park, one can start seeing patterns and personality pretty clearly. If we had folks lining up to adopt these dogs, we wouldn't have an issue. But very, very few people want to adopt these dogs. I'm sure the shelter staff would be happy to add your name to the list of potential adopters, Frank :-).
Frank Leeza February 21, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Bob, there are people adopting "these dogs" - whatever you mean by that - at rescues all over the area. That they're apparently not lining up at Care may say more about Care (have you seen its Yelp rating?) than about the dogs. And perhaps you didn't see where I said I work in rescue. My house is full of "these dogs," and they don't deserve to be thrown away.


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