Channel 11 just did a lengthy piece on Chicago Animal Care and Control – the taxpayer-supported city agency that handles lost and abandoned dogs, cats and other creatures.
We were interviewed for the story because we have done substantial research on ACC in recent months and sued the agency twice for failing to release public documents.
Click here for the Channel 11/Chicago Tonight segment.
Anyway, we wanted to put a few thoughts into words to clarify some things lest everyone thinks it’s rosy at the ACC pound on the South Side – which is the implication from the city:
- The top people at ACC have little to no animal control or rescue experience.
- The No. 2 administrator there, just weeks into his job, gave up his family pet at the pound to one of the rescue groups that routinely visits the pound looking for animals to adopt out.
- Complaints persist about cleanliness in animal cages, and other bad practices, including leashes being kept on dogs in the kennels, presenting a choking hazard.
- As WBBM-AM reported this year, ACC has been inexplicably slow – with sometimes a lag of months – to respond to calls about inhumane treatment of animals in the neighborhoods.
- Impounded animals that are slated for adoption have been euthanized or otherwise killed. We detailed two instances in stories earlier this year, but these were not isolated incidents.
- One employee who choked a dog to death earlier this year while trying to get it under control not only wasn’t fired, he wasn’t even suspended for the maximum period allowable under the union contract.
- City officials sometimes say their hands are tied in dealing with personnel issues at ACC because of union agreements, though the city is the one signing them.
- Transparency has been atrocious; the city has turned down our efforts to obtain emails and video that would shine a light on ACC operations. We are now in court trying to force the Emanuel administration to stop hiding public information.
The city has been trying to put lipstick on a pig – officials point to a new inspector general report that found ACC staffing levels have improved. But staffing levels don’t address the quality of staffing and management.
And while newly announced renovations to the pound are welcome, the city has yet to address a call by the BGA’s Andy Shaw to draw together all interested parties (city, union, volunteer, rescue groups, etc.) to start tackling meaningful reforms that instill more professionalism at the agency.
Why should people care about this tiny agency that operates mostly below the radar?
More than $5 million in taxpayer money is spent there each year.
Animals are living creatures that deserve humane treatment and care.
ACC’s mission is to “care” and “control” animals – and if the agency isn’t fulfilling its mission, then taxpayers aren’t being served to the extent they should.
ACC’s operations are critical, for the agency deals with dangerous animals that otherwise might be roaming the streets, and with dogs involved in dog-fighting that helps fuel gang activity and street violence.
There are good people who work for and with ACC who have the right intentions. We’re not trying to bash each and every employee and stakeholder.
But too many problems exist at ACC, and the solutions are too few.
This blog post was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Robert Herguth, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 821-9030.