Go Directly to Petharbor. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.

It seems my last post on the Chicago pound was unpopular with the pet killing enablers there.  Which is – you know, yay.  But it resulted in a very politely worded and professional nastygram from the FOIA officer, received with my latest batch of records.  The Chicago pound wants me to know how proud they are of the fact that roughly half the pets who come in the front door leave in garbage bags:

Excerpt from a letter from the Chicago pound (click to enlarge).

They are working tirelessly to get approximately half the pets to the kill room.  But don’t criticize, we’re all on the same team, there’s no I in KILL.  OK, there is – but only one!  I mean, some words have two Is and other letters and stuff.

Regarding their marketing fails on Petharbor, the FOIA officer writes:

 Petharbor.com is the primary resource available for citizens looking for lost pets and not for the general public looking to adopt.

I asked what the primary online resource is for people looking to adopt but received no response.  I checked Petfinder but Chicago ACC only has 44 dogs and 17 cats listed there so obviously that’s not it.  The “Friends” of the pound use Petango to list adoptables where there are 55 cats and a dozen dogs listed so that’s not it either.  The pound’s own website says:

Screencap from the Chicago ACC website (click to enlarge).

Go to Petharbor.com if you want to adopt. D’oh!

The letter does state that “volunteers maintain a social media presence to advertise to potential adopters” so I checked Facebook.  I could not determine how many pets are being marketed on the FB page because it’s a hot mess.  But it appears to be a small number.  This is a recent post on the page:

Screencap from the “Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control” page on Facebook (click to enlarge).

Orphaned kittens left in a cage for 5 days. One surviving kitten asleep on his dead littermate.

Say, did I mention they’re only killing about half the pets?

I’d like to go back to Petharbor now please.

37 thoughts on “Go Directly to Petharbor. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.

  1. There’s no one in the Chicago area that could have taken these little guys in or no one with a nursing mom who might have accepted these kittens?
    They almost sound proud of the fact that they kill so many – and there are plenty of people in Chicago who would step up and help if they knew of the needs.
    GEEZ – if they thought they were going to scare you away with that information, they are not playing with a full deck!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shelter with an RTO rate higher than the adoption rate. A quickie math exercise says that their adoption rate is 6% and their RTO is 7%. Clearly they are making no effort to market their animals. And I wonder where they are transferring so many animals to?

    And what the hell is up with leaving nursing kittens suffering in a cage for five days? How is that not animal cruelty? If no one was feeding them, they were dying the whole time from starvation, cold, and neglect. If an ACO saw that in a home, that person could be arrested for animal cruelty, but somehow it’s “OK” to do that in a shelter setting? Sorry, no. The shelter and it’s operations are not above or outside of the law.

    If I were that volunteer and I found those kittens after that kind of treatment, I would have filed charges against the shelter. How jaded are these volunteers that they see this sort of thing day after day and just let it pass as standard operating procedure? Why don’t they band together and make a noise? Why allow the cruelty to continue?

    1. I also wondered why the volunteer did nothing – not even taking the surviving kitten to try and save. I’m sure the volunteer is a caring person, but when we walk by these horrors and do nothing or say nothing, the animals pay the ultimate price and things go on ‘as usual’. Nothing changes!
      RIP babies, you deserved so much better. This pains my heart.

      1. db, she did take the surviving kitten – he’s the one in the picture. But by her own admission, she walked past the cage the day before and didn’t take them. But I’m sure if they were left in a box on the street, she would have taken them immediately.

        It’s the “this is the way it is” acceptance mentality that really concerns me. These are good people being damaged by an emotionally abusive system and they don’t even realize it.

      2. Thanks for clearing that up. Wish she’d taken them both the day before, though. I agree that it’s the do nothing or can’t change things mentality that results in so many deaths.

    2. It sickens me that private citizens everyday are busting their humps spending their last dime to help unwanted animals of every type and yet the big shelters and rescues ALLOW animals to die in their care by doing things that the private citizen would go to jail for and be banned from having animals. How is this right? This cruelty needs to be stopped. More and more “pounds” need to be exposed for the horror houses that they really are and more small rescues and single animal lovers need to be left to do the real hard work!

  3. I think I put it on the other post, but there is also another page from volunteers that post the dogs that do not make it to the adoption floor. CACC is awful. The few times I have been there, the cages and animals are filthy.

    There are many rescues and many breed specific rescue in Chicago area that automatically pull dogs once the stray hold is up.

  4. Mikken….”How jaded are these volunteers that they see this sort of thing day after day and just let it pass as standard operating procedure? Why don’t they band together and make a noise?”

    Maybe fear of retaliation…I read The Help recently – though fiction very similar in many ways I thought in the movement for shelter reform….in the civil rights movement – people were killed for speaking up – Shelter reform advocates don’t face death that I know of…but there definitely is retaliation and its typically the animals that pay.

    1. Mary Francis – Of course retaliation is a possibility. Which is why the volunteers need to document EVERYTHING they see wrong (dates, times, names, photos, video), present a united front, and try first going through proper channels. If that does not work, then they go to the media.

      If they do nothing, nothing will change.

      Volunteers tend to be good people who care. And I have no doubt at all that if any one of them was walking down a street and came upon a box with two very young kittens and no mom, every single one of them would feel compelled to help those kittens.

      So why is it that when they walk through the shelter and see the same kittens in a cage, is it somehow less urgent to help them? Why is it accepted that they’ve been left with no care for days?

      1. This apathy seems alot like FoMAS in Memphis. The fear of reprisal comes not only from MAS staff, but also FoMAS “leadership”.

        There are so many sad reports of & about “shelters” it puts off many folks from coming down & adopting from them.

    2. While I understand how this type of mentality develops, I reject it as an excuse for silence. Fear that animals will be killed in retaliation for speaking out is not a reason to be quiet but rather should be motivation to speak up MORE. The pets are going to be killed anyway.

    3. The threats of retaliatory killing used in the animal control system reminds me rather more strongly of the patterns in violent domestic abuse, where pets are used as bargaining chips, as hostages, and killed to control family members.

  5. Mikken above “It’s the “this is the way it is” acceptance mentality that really concerns me. These are good people being damaged by an emotionally abusive system and they don’t even realize it.

    With much respect to you I disagree….I know they realize it. Read The Help – see what think.

  6. I cannot help your strays/adoptables unless they are posted somewhere on line so I can market them. I cannot believe CACC has so few adoptions-what in a city of 2.7 million people! There is some reason why there are few adoptions-bad location of the shelter or has a bad reputation for visitors-nasty smelling, etc. Seeing a dead cat would turn me off and I would have gone right to the front desk and gripe about it. I would also be concerned about the unknown outcomes-the statistics are for known outcomes. Another Friends of a Shelter Facebook page with no logic-similar to Friends of MAS! I cannot tell easily which animals are still available.

  7. Please check cacc adoptable pets for images of animals available at the shelter for Chicago Animal Care and Control.

  8. Christ on a bicycle, but that vol. post was utterly, excuse me for a backward term, but RETARDED. I have read the theme above, good people being victimized by a bad system, yada yada. And it is wholly true. But I’ve got a new motto these days: WHAT YOU ALLOW IS WHAT WILL CONTINUE. ‘Nuff said.

  9. CACC has a lot of problems for many reasons. I’ve always thought it was in a bad location. There isn’t any walking traffic and you could miss the place if you were driving too fast. Its just a nondescript building without windows. There is a shortage of help. kennel workers were laid off in the name of budget cuts, complacent union workers know its almost impossible to be fired and a lot of volunteers left when they were required to be fingerprinted by the city. On a positive note it does work with rescues and PAWS Chicago, a great no kill shelter, goes through there every day to pull dogs. There simply aren’t enough workers and volunteers there. People go to look at the animals and there isn’t anyone to walk them through the adoption area. A volunteer once told me that any volunteer who rocked the boat would be asked not to return so they turn a blind eye so they can stay for the animals.

    On a positive note the local rescues are making a difference. I know that, according to the percentage stated above, 5,453 animals were euthanized so far in 2012 but it is a big difference from the 42,561 animals euthanized in 1997 when PAWS Chicago was started. There are three places that I know of who have low cost spay/neuter programs. I had my pets fixed for around $35 each but a lot of people simply won’t do it and unless there is a mandate requiring it, there will always be way more animals than people to adopt them.

    So, while that place is sad, there are people who are working to help the animals get out of there. We can help too by spreading the word to spay/neuter.

  10. You have a frightening ability for tragic satire. I don’t know how you take so horrific a moment, write about it with intelligence and insight, and make my blood boil and provide insight with a clear understanding of shelter negligence.
    I don’t know whether to hate you or love you.
    But I can easily say this about Chicago ACC – not on my love list.

    P.S. can i jsut start republishing your articles so my readers don’t have to troll through my posts? Never stop Shirley. You’re the best we got.

  11. Sadly, I feel that in these types of cities; Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, etc., people there will just say “well, we have high crime here, so if we don’t even care about each other, how are we going to care about animals here?” It’s really sad because even if I hope that these cities become a utopia in the future, it may never happen, so should animals keep suffering in the meantime? I could be wrong, I’ve never even been to these cities before, but that’s the vibe I get when people from these cities comment on stuff like this. Not everyone of course, but more people than from other cities. And it’s also a vibe I get since this guy seemed to be bragging about the 50% kill rate, rather than looking at it like it’s a number that is not great. Of course, every city can do better, so I hope these cities (and other cities around the world) continue to push to be no-kill. But I don’t think it will happen soon.

    Thanks Shirley for continuing to shine lights on these issues and pushing them with concerns.

  12. ARGH…bottle babies left to dehydrate and to die in each others paws. It makes me sick. It’s so pervasive, Staffers and even volunteers, either trained or brainwashed or mimicing the old skool party line. It’s so difficult – no – next to impossible – to change these mindsets once they are ingrained. People stop feeling – if they did at all – and become Stepford Wives. Simply doing everything the same old ways. There has to be a purging – and that includes Animal Control Staff, Commissioners, and Mayors. Having a compassionate Animal Control Director is NOT enough. The entire staff and Council persons, and Commissioners have got to change or want to.

  13. Is there not enough animal advocates to bring about more change than I’ve seen in the past 10 years? We’re doing something wrong or not enough of because change hasn’t happened & sad stories of cats & dogs continue to roll out of our “shelters” on a daily basis.

    I’m just very frustrated about the lack of progress that animal advocates have made. There’s got to be more we can do to effect change, because I can’t accept what I see & hear from publicly funded hell-hole “shelters.”

  14. I am crying right now. How could anyone treat animals this way. Those poor little critters, so tiny and helpless! Would these people do the same thing to children? Probably not because humans can communicate their suffering to other humans but most animals suffer in silence! I am disgusted and heart-sick!

  15. Maybe some of the high profile Chicago shelters whose directors are making six figure salaries should start pulling animals from Chicago Animal Care and Control instead of going outside the state of Illinois to cherry pick for the most adoptable dogs.

  16. Why don’t you guys take a trip to CACC to rescue cats or kittens? Do so knowing you can only take those for whom you have space as well as the resources to provide proper care. Walk by cages upon cages full of perfectly nice kitties who reach out to you with their paws and meow at you. Who do you choose, knowing that your choices will not only save some lives while others inevitably end, but also have an indelible impact on your rescue? You can save ten healthy kittens or two or three extremely sick ones. What do you do? Do you have the courage to make those choices? Do you have the courage to even walk in the door? Or do you just sit at your computer screen and judge others who do?
    Walking past kittens that are most likely beyond saving that are scheduled to be euthanized and choosing those that have the best chance of survival is gut wrenching and just plain sucks. It’s also the reality of those who choose to help Chicago’s neediest animals, the ones who land at the city shelter. That doesn’t mean those who rescue condone everything that goes on there, but the reality is that we are there to rescue who we can best help. That means leaving so many behind that you would love to save. It’s a harsh reality and not for the faint of heart. Apparently it’s easy to judge people when you aren’t the one making those decisions.
    Pop Rock is doing excellent by the way. He got lucky that at least someone in a position to do something about his situation saw him, even if it didn’t occur in some idyllic fashion where I skipped into the shelter with a wicker basket and filled it with adorable healthy kittens. He joined the fifteen other cats and kittens we rescued through two different but similarly cash-strapped rescues the day before. We have since raised thousands of dollars to care for them because we wanted to help them despite the limited resources of the rescues. I had sponsor Pop Rock myself in order to be able to pull him because the rescue didn’t have the budget for yet another potentially sick kitten. If only all of you arm chair critics of people and places you don’t know would have gotten to him sooner, you could have gotten him released on a medical exception and saved his brother too. Or maybe you could have bottle fed them for days only to realize they is no rescue with the ability to take tiny orphans. I guess you were all too busy sitting back and judging to do something like that. You would all be served well by a major dose of reality.

    1. Sorry, but you don’t know who we are or what we do. Most of us ARE actively involved in rescue/foster/financial support/volunteer for our local shelters, humane societies and animal controls. Does that mean that we have no right to let the world know what’s going on in other places? Does that mean we have no right to expect, on behalf of the animals that end up in those places, what’s really going on?

      There are places that are saving many more than others, upwards of 90%+ of the animals leave alive. They are well cared for when sheltered and no one is, to my knowledge, waltzing through with a basket looking to fill with healthy, adoptable kittens.

      Thank you to those of you who are working so hard to help the animals in your community. But please be aware that there are always better ways to do things, proven ways that work other places, ways that mean fewer animals end up in the dumpster and more end up in homes. Don’t be satisfied that you save some, you lose some. It just isn’t necessary to think that way anymore.

      RIP all of the little ones who never made it out alive. You deserved better. You deserved a chance to grow up and know the love of a family. We all let you down.

  17. Sorry folks but you are all speculating. That kitty that died passed away due to an upper respiratory infection. I feed it the evening before he died. I bottle feed those two kittens for days in addition to several other kittens who did live and have been rescued. The management there works with us to help get more animals out. While it is not the best conditions the staff and voluteers are working hard to do right by these animals, both cats and dogs. while I wish we could save them all the sad reality is we can’t. It is so easy to sit behind your computer and judge. I am willing to bet only a few of you voluteer at your local shelter. CACC has rescue partners. These rescues are the transfers you see. They pull the dogs and bring them into their rescues.

  18. The mentality that “we can’t save them all” is so pervasive…

    What if I were to tell you that you CAN save them all – at least the ones that are saveable – say, more than 90% of everything that comes in the door? Because it can be done. It has been done. It’s being done every day in other places, so clearly it’s possible.

    You say that the management works with you to get more animals out and you say that it takes “courage to walk in the door”. What is the management doing to make the shelter more welcoming to the public? What is the management doing to market their animals?

    Sorry, but it sounds like the management is dumping its responsibilities on hard working rescue groups and overworked volunteers instead of trying to change things for the better. It sounds like the management is not invested in life saving and not assuming a leadership role in the community. The volunteers and rescue groups are paying the price for these failings emotionally, psychologically, and monetarily.

    And the numbers bear that out. Look at them – a whopping 42% transfers, a paltry 6% adoption rate, and 7% RTO. These are the numbers of a shelter that has gotten very comfortable with leaning heavily on rescue groups and doing essentially nothing to reach out to the public themselves.

    Tell you what – how about you guys agree to keep saving almost half of their animals if management will save the other half?

    Demand better. Not just for the animals, but for yourselves.

  19. Mikken,

    Your post might have some truth to it, but I have major issues with this blog that chose to post a volunteer’s name and photograph. Why is this blog attacking a volunteer for trying to save a kitten? Why is it posting her name? Is she some sort of public figure I am not aware of? I’m pretty shocked her name wasn’t redacted and that her photo was used without permission.

    While we should hope for more from shelters, I don’t wish for each volunteer to take home more animals than they can handle. That is a cruelty, too. I don’t understand the post and comments criticizing a volunteer (by name even) for saving those she can.

    1. I’m sorry – what post are you referring to? Because the one you commented on is about Petharbor and marketing resources. It contains zero attacks on any volunteer. By the way, Facebook is a public site available to everyone on the planet with an internet connection. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

      1. That does not give the right to repost. Just because something is on Facebook does not give the right to reuse someone’s name or likeness on a blog that purports to give news. So you can say all of the “I’m sorry”s you want in an attempt to contradict me, but the choice of posting someone’s name (an innocent volunteer at that) still remains, and that’s on you.

  20. I wholly agree with Ming Ai. I cannot believe the audacity. This volunteer is actually at the shelter, not blogging from the comfort of her living room. She saved a kitten. Policy discussions are fine and good, but when you call out someone who is actually in the mess and trying to do the best she can with the resources she has, then you cross a decency line.

    And as for the other commenters, maybe you should put down your copy of “The Help” and go walk a shelter dog before you judge those who do.

  21. No one was “called out” except to wonder how emotionally abused these rescue groups and volunteers are and how jaded they’ve become that CACC’s standard operating procedure is accepted as “just the way it is”.

    It is tragic that good and caring people see bottle kittens scheduled to be killed and just accept that. Tell me it doesn’t need to change. Tell me that we can’t do any better. Tell me that it’s okey dokey that CACC is run like this.

  22. Aimee Fagan “And as for the other commenters, maybe you should put down your copy of “The Help” and go walk a shelter dog before you judge those who do.” Maybe I wasn’t clear when I referred to “The Help”

    I was supporting (not judging) those who volunteer – I also volunteer alot – my time – my money – my efforts.

    Incidentally a fellow volunteer gave me the book to read (y’know when I find time when I’m not working and volunteering) – my friend said “The Help” reminded her of situations she has seen with Animal Control – and sadly the bullying mentality and unkindness written about in the book reminds me too of Animal Control.

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