Where the Chicago No Kill Bequeathment is Going

It was announced this week that an 84 year old man named Sylvester Czopek bequeathed $1.5 million to Chicago area no kill shelters.  ABC reports the money will be divided among the following five shelters:

1.  The Will County Humane Society is a limited admission shelter that sells dogs for $175 and cats for $100 (no checks) only to people who live within 90 minutes of the facility.  So not only are they limited admission, they are also limited adoption.  The website indicates a special requirement for cats to be considered for intake:

NOTE: All cats considered for intake need to be accompanied with the recent results of a Feline Leukemia and AIDS test performed by a Vet.

2.  The West Suburban Humane Society is a limited admission shelter that sells dogs under a year of age for $200 and cats under a year for $175.  They don’t take checks, cash, debit cards or AmEx.  So unless you have a Visa or Mastercard credit card, you can’t adopt from them.  I could not adopt from them, even if I could afford to pay their fees.

3.  The Naperville Area Humane Society is a limited admission shelter that charges a $75 fee to surrender a pet.  NAHS sells puppies aged 2 – 5 months for $250 and dogs aged 6 months – 6 years for $200.  Kittens aged 2 – 5 months are sold for $125 and cats aged 6 months to 6 years are $50.

4.  The Animal Welfare League kills healthy/treatable dogs and cats according to the reports posted on its website.  AWL is open admission and sells dogs for $135 and cats for $73 (for one or two cats).  The website lists some special requirements for adopters including no puppies or kittens under the age of 3 months to any home with children less than 5 years old, an investigator must conduct a house check for “some of the larger breed dogs”, and if you don’t have a land line phone, you have to bring in a copy of a recent cell phone bill.

5.  PAWS Chicago is a limited admission shelter that pulls some of the animals from the city pound and makes the familiar promise that “Chicago should be a No Kill community in the next five years.”  PAWS Chicago sells puppies up to 6 months for $275 (plus $75 deposit which is refundable upon proof of completion of an obedience class within 4 months of adoption) and dogs for $200 (plus $75 refundable deposit for obedience class).  Cats are sold for $100 – all ages.

38 thoughts on “Where the Chicago No Kill Bequeathment is Going

  1. Sorry the man died, too bad he didn’t do his homework on these facilities (or maybe he did).
    I wonder how many animals died this past year in all of these facilities. And how many animals got adopted at those prices. did any of these places post any information on that?

    1. Dot, there are some numbers on the different websites but the main thing to keep in mind is that 4 out of 5 of these places is limited admission. All limited admission shelters should be close to 100% save rate by virtue of the fact that they are turning away pets in need. They can choose to wait until someone who can afford their fees and meet their adoption requirements comes along because addressing the needs of the community’s pets is not their priority.

      On Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 12:52 PM, YesBiscuit!

      1. I see.. another comment.. “Cherry Pick” for the most profitable..very sad. wonder how many died of old age waiting and/or how old is their oldest resident of these high class adoption centers?

  2. Well with all that money, may be time to open admission and start giving away homeless pets. How many lives could be saved with 1.5 million bucks? Will any of them do the right thing?

    1. that’s a great idea.. since the list is out there for the public to see.. start contacting them with that idea. I would love to hear what they have to say about that.

  3. The man died almost a year ago and during this time all these groups were probably fighting each other over the windfall. The lawyers actually decide where the money goes if the deceased has not spelled it out prior. PAWS Chicago has a multi-million dollar reserve and a multi million dollar decorated facility to match. In contrast, I help some real no kill shelters in southern Illinois that operate on a shoestring and save over 90% of the animals they take in. The real rescuers are too busy doing the actual work and don’t always have time to chase the money. If anyone wants to see how many animals were taken in, euthanized, returned and adopted I have all the information from Illinois shelters.

  4. Wow. So disheartening to read all the trappings of adoption requirements…ages of animals, ages of family members in the home, high fees, obedience classes and more. How wrong is that to write policy on what type of famliy is good enough to adopt – how old an animal has to be to be adopted, and limited admission means they cherry pick and take only the “most adoptable” animals. And now – a windfall of $$$$ to vaidate and justify them continuing these policies that have nothing to do with animal welfare and ahppy family adoptions.

  5. how sad is this.. someone tries to do the right thing..and bam.. this happens..wonder how much the lawyers took

  6. Once again it is not about the pet who breaths,feels,loves,and most important needs a home. No it is all about the money for the greedy, insentive, ilmoral human who are not human or humane at all.

  7. This man’s excellent intention, combined with the fact that he took action has reached the masses via media and social networking, this has influenced the empathy and compassion of many others, who will in turn support other animal welfare causes respectively. Every action we take makes a difference. Blessings on all who give voice for the animals who cannot speak for themselves. ~Gerean Pflug, The Animal Spirits

  8. My cousin has raised, loved & owned Siamese cats for at least 52 years. She recently attempted to get two, elderly cats with health issues from Siamese rescue (in Maryland). She currently has two Siamese which are 16 yr old and 11 yr old. Her vet adopted the 11 yr old one to her this past year. Anyway, she was told that IF she were approved to adopt one of THEIR rescue cats at a couple of hundred dollars each, that THEY (the rescue) would select which one would be best for her.

    That rescue lost a good adopter (I have been involved in dog rescue & adoption for 15 years) and two old cats lost a chance at a very good home. She now has 2 new Siamese kittens from a reputable breeder.

    Sometimes, I think that “rescues” make it way too hard for good people to adopt an animal in need.

    Thanks for your blog!

    1. Elaine – I too think that some rescues make it very hard for people to adopt. I knwo of many that will not allow ANY adoptions of dogs unless the adopter has a fenced in yard. AND they do NOT allow ANY dog adoptions to apartments or condos or townhomes. WTH? There are soooooo many wonderful people living in these types of homes – seniors and young urban hipsters who ALL deserve to have an animal to love. Frankly – as a dog sitter/walker – I have seen better treatment of animals in these living arrangements than in homes with fenced in yards – as these animals many times are just let in and out of the fenced in yards without alot of interraction. I don’t get it either…

  9. These “shelters” are run more like the local rescue groups around here – cherry picking, high adoption fees, etc. with the exception that the rescue groups aren’t killing for space. So strange. And the group that doesn’t take cash? Is that even legal?

    And they actually call it Feline AIDS? WTF? Either someone is stuck in a prior decade or they simply do not understand FIV and what it means (and how many FIV+ cats are adoptable, even to non-FIV households, if the cats get along).

  10. I’ve never been so disappointed in a post you’ve written, Shirley. I put my comments on Facebook, so I won’t repeat them here. I’m not affiliated with any of the groups, though as an animal rescuer I have been helped by several of them.

    Regarding PAWS Chicago – be sure and take a look on their website at all the things they do for animals in Chicago. We should all accomplish so much in a year …..

    I’m saddened by all the negative comments too. I’m guessing each of your communities is much more progressive than Chicagoland, and already no-kill, and that’s why you feel you can criticize these 5 shelters?

    TheAnimalSpirits – Love your comment. My first thought when I read about the legacy was that it would bring a lot of attention, and make the average person, more aware of No-Kill – and that is a good thing.

    1. Sue, the purpose of YesBiscuit’s post is similar to the No-Kill Communties blog (http://www.no-killnews.com/) – to document where there are and are not any no-kill communities.

      No-kill shelters have a huge role to play in creating such communities. A no-kill community is one that offers shelter for all pets in need (and works to put all parts of the No Kill Equation in place); a limited admission animal control shelter doesn’t do this. Some communities have an AC shelter that only accepts stray pets but works with another organization who accepts owner surrenders. Rescue groups, with or without their own shelters, also play a huge part. (See “The No Kill Equation” – http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/no-kill-equation/

      Who are the experts at creating true no-kill communities? Only those who have achieved it.

      To create a true no-kill community, pay attention to what successful communities have done. They have adopted their way out of killing. This blog is tracking them – No-Kill Communities blog – http://www.no-killnews.com/

      To date, there are 87 no-kill communities and counting!

      If you are a no-kill advocate, then shelter data is your friend. It’s like a report card. The purpose of shelter data is to measure weather efforts are successful or need improving.

      Currently, there are zero no-kill communities in the state of Illinois. The NKC blog says that the state collects shelter data but doesn’t post it online.

      See “Statistics for the No-Kill Advocate” – http://www.no-killnews.com/?p=347

      and “Statistics” – http://www.no-killnews.com/?page_id=691

      and “Using Data to Save Lives Articles” here – http://www.maddiesfund.org/Maddies_Institute/Articles/Using_Data_to_Save_Lives_Articles.html

      and the “No Kill Advocate’s Toolkit”, see – http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/toolkit/

      … “How Does Your Community’s Shelter Measure Up?”, PDF – http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/MeasureUpweb.pdf

      The majority of people believe homeless animals deserve the chance to get adopted. If you agree, use the above info to measure how well your community is doing and research how to improve it.

      1. Cee – what I don’t understand is the purpose in denigrating 5 shelters who were fortunate enough to be the beneficiaries of a man’s estate?

        Why are the people commenting on this post criticizing these shelters, instead of praising the precious gift this gentleman left the community? No shelter is perfect, and I’m not affiliated with these 5 shelters. But I am fairly familiar with 3 of them, and know without a doubt that those 3 are very worthy of the donations.

        Saying these 5 shelters “sell” animals is derogatory, and the word was used intentionally – why? The adoption fees at these shelters are not at all out of line with the adoption fees charged by many of the shelters & rescues that are held up as shining examples of no-kill communities.

        Chicago is an expensive area to live in, and none of these fees seem ridiculously out of line. If adoption fees at these particular shelters are too high for people, there are places that have lower adoption fees – there are hundreds of animal rescue groups/shelters in Chicagoland to adopt from.

        (Why criticize the fees at the above shelters, but not criticize $500 being charged for a puppy by a well-known no-kill advocate group in TX? Are we no-kill advocates going to start criticizing every little thing every shelter/rescue group does?)

        I’ve read both this blog and the No-Kill Communities blog for a long time. I’ve attended the No-Kill Conference several times (and met Shirley at one of them), and I’m intimately familiar with the numbers in my own community outside Chicago.

        I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been a No-Kill advocate for some time, and I honestly do not understand the purpose of denigrating these 5 shelters. When I first heard of this bequest I was ecstatic that someone left such a generous gift to some wonderful shelters, and equally excited about the attention it would generate.

        I must be naive or stupid – because I was in shock when I first read Shirley’s post, and continue to be dumb-founded at the above reactions.

      2. I don’t think you are naive or stupid Sue just because you are shocked and dumbfounded at this post and the comments. You are simply interpreting things very differently than some other people. I don’t know what rescue group you are referring to that sells puppies for $500 but I am not in favor of that, obviously. I favor free or pay what you wish adoptions for shelter pets and don’t like the standard rescue business model that relies on adoption fees to recoup expenses.

  11. Sue,

    You stated your thoughts on this blog post were posted on Facebook. Since your FB post concerned this blog posting, would it make sense to post your thoughts here as well? I would like to read what you have to say, but searching “Sue” on Facebook is clearly not going to get me far ;-)

    1. I should have stated that better. My comments are posted on YesBiscuit’s Facebook page, under this same story.

  12. Random pet peeve: cats don’t get AIDS. I wish people would stop calling FIV AIDS, which it isn’t, because it confuses some people: they automatically assume the cat can’t live a normal life, and some people even think they can get AIDS from a cat… and stupid people deserve pets too.

      1. What he said. We LOVE our FIV+ kitteh we found that the local rescue group refused to take. I believe they are taking the advice of a regressive vet they deal with. When you call that clinic, even the receptionist recommends testing then killing such cats. I recommend Bud’s FIV Therapy page for unbiased info, http://fivtherapy.com/ .

        Testing should benefit the cat, not result in their death.

    1. Cee, exactly. Hard to believe some vets (and rescues who should absolutely know better) still think of FIV as a death sentence when it obviously is not.

      If you’re running a rescue that deals with cats, you are obligated to learn the facts of these issues no matter what a vet tells you.

  13. “I don’t think you are naive or stupid Sue just because you are shocked and dumbfounded at this post and the comments. You are simply interpreting things very differently than some other people. I don’t know what rescue group you are referring to that sells puppies for $500 but I am not in favor of that, obviously. I favor free or pay what you wish adoptions for shelter pets and don’t like the standard rescue business model that relies on adoption fees to recoup expenses.”


    Shirley, what are these groups supposed to do with the money that was left to them – give it back, say they aren’t worthy of it? What was the man supposed to do when he wrote his will – he obviously loved animals, and wanted to do the best thing with the gift he was giving.

    If none of these shelters meet your criteria of no-kill, and none in the state do either, should he have just given it away elsewhere?

    Though I’ve seen you respond with your opinion about adoption fees, I haven’t seen a response about why you chose to go after these 5 shelters the way you did. And I say this with all sincerity and respect – please help me understand that part of it.

    1. I do not fault the man who obviously loved and wanted to help shelter pets. What would have been appropriate for these groups to do IMO is to say something along the lines of, “We are not truly a no kill shelter. Therefore we don’t believe we should receive this money as it doesn’t appear to be consistent with the generous man’s intentions. However, here is a list of shelters who actually are no kill and make the information to verify same publicly available. Please consider donating the money to one or more of them.”

      These groups should not have taken this money IMO as they are not truly no kill shelters, which is what I believe the donor intended. I simply exposed the fact that they are not actually no kill shelters.

      1. Since the wonderful generous donor THOUGHT these facilities were No Kill… then these entities are OBLIGATED to follow thorugh and BE NO KILL to take this money. I know what $250,000.00 can do in a shelter environment. TRULY. It can change and existing organization from OK to GREAT…meaning – treating animals, outreach education, embracing the political/ county govenment system by advocating and being a part of the big CHANGE to NO KILL.

        It’s not that hard! It’s being done – the killing can stop on day one. THESE entities taking this money are OBLIGATED to become part of the NO KILL EQUATION. The solution that has proven to save lives, provide education and energize and involve the community they serve.

        They should be held accountable for HOW they spend this money. MANY people receive monies from estates with “strings attached.” They have to spend it in the intended way or they forfeit it.

        Put of honor for this donor AND true care of the animals they claim to represent – they should step up and do this.

        I am writing to these five entities – simply to share the ways they can spend this money to be NO KILL. It may or may not even spark a new thought process. BUT – if it does – it’s a start.


      2. But as Cee/Chris already pointed out, there are not any no-kill shelters in Illinois that meet your criteria. (I’m assuming that the gentleman specified shelters either in the Chicagoland area, or in the state of IL – which is probably a reasonable assumption.)

        What would you have the attorneys / estate do then? Let the money sit in the estate and not get distributed unless/until a qualified shelter in Chicago meets your criteria? What about all the good that this $1.5 Million could (will) do for animals in the Chicago area? Because it WILL do a lot of good, make no mistake about that –

      3. No, the money should not sit there. However, there are other, smaller rescues around Illinois that are dying for assistance, need buildings or building repair, vet bills, etc. that would never be considered because they do not run in the same “circles” that the big guys do. These smaller shelters and rescues also take in the dogs not “cherry picked” by the bigger shelters and find homes for them anyway.

        My sister lives in Chicago and told me that PAWS has taken in dogs with terminal illnesses, sometimes refusing or euthanizing others to care for these sick dogs (with no chance of recovery). While my own rescue has taken in terminally ill dogs and let them live out their lives with a foster family, we have NOT refused or euthanized others because we “didn’t have room” to take them. All rescues/shelters know that if you publicize the care of a ill or injured dog you get twice or three times the amount of donations that an otherwise normal dog would garner.

        Make no mistake, shelters and rescues are in business, they have to be or they would all fold. You have to make money, whether by adoption fees or fundraisers. You also have to spend your money wisely. I would have been much happier if this money would have been distributed to twenty or thirty groups instead of the largest five in the area. You have no idea how disheartening it is to have to make vet decisions for a dog restricted by the amount of money you have, or how to keep a shelter building clean, dry and comfortable with a leaking roof, etc.

        I believe there are many shelters in Illinois who follow the no-kill guidelines, but again, they are not the ones with the big publicity nor are they in Chicago. One that does very good work is one I assist, Benld Adopt-A-Pet. They take in tons of animals and only euthanize if the animal cannot be helped medically or is a danger to itself or others(very few of either). The quarter million figure is probably their whole annual budget.

      4. Michele – I don’t disagree with you at all, there are many wonderful shelters in Illinois! However, NONE of them meet the criteria Shirley is laying out to be considered No-Kill. So none of them should accept the money, if we follow her guidelines. That means the money would just sit in the estate, I guess.

        There are a lot of great shelters in southern IL (and in Chicagoland too). They all work their hearts out day and night to save animals. There are many in the Chicago area that run on a shoestring, and would be incredibly blessed to receive $250-$300K, as it is way more than their annual budget too.

        There really is nothing wrong with PAWS Chicago having money in reserve – that is a very responsible thing to do, given the responsibilities they have (shelter, veterinarians, mobile vet, food pantry, free s/n, etc). Reserves help a shelter make it through economic times like we’ve all been through lately. I’d consider it irresponsible if a shelter like PAWS didn’t have any reserves…..

  14. When I said “It’s not that hrad” – I meant the road map to NO KILL. It’s been proven so THAT work is done. It IS hard work to be NO KILL. IT takes more work and care and compassion to CHANGE and are for animals rather than to simply kill them.

  15. “I favor free or pay what you wish adoptions for shelter pets and don’t like the standard rescue business model that relies on adoption fees to recoup expenses.”

    ? Most small animal shelters and rescue groups that I know need to charge enough to at least cover the vetting costs, so adoption fees run $100 – $225 and higher if transport is needed. Most of them do NOT have the time or extra help to do fund raising so that they can afford to adopt out pets for free or near that.

    1. Yes, that is the current rescue model which IMO is flawed. No other charitable organization that I can think of operates this way. They make fundraising a priority because charging for products/services goes against the idea of charity.

      1. I can only speak about my rescue group but if we had to only rely on adoption fees we would be broke. We currently have about 30 schipperkes in our program and of those, only two of those are under age 8. We routinely adopt out seniors at $50 or free since no one wants an “old” dog. When we do have younger dogs our vet fees to spay/neuter, heartworm, vaccines, worm, dental, etc. usually run between $250-450 per dog. Some of the older ones run that bill double or more depending on what is wrong. We have to charge an adoption fee but also do fundraising all year long. We have also found that people who pay nothing for a dog usually treat it that way; not all, but too many in our experience. Rescues and shelters have to have both adoption fees and fundraising in order to survive to help more dogs. When we have to fundraise all the time it takes away from our main job of actually caring for the animals. It would be great if every group had a talented person to continually raise funds but that often does not happen. In those cases, adoption fees literally can save the rescue so they can continue.

Leave a Reply