Several dogs are still available for adoption at the Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) shelter, which was overcrowded with dogs. To help relieve the situation, financial incentives are being offered to rescue groups and people looking to adopt a pet.
The CACC is required by law to take in any animal brought to its shelter, according to Charlie Propsom, founder and secretary of the non-profit Friends of Animal Care and Control. The CACC takes in dogs and cats primarily. Propsom said the population of dogs constantly fluctuates, and usually, rescue groups take in animals to their shelters to prevent overcrowding.
This winter, however, concerns about the flu made some rescue groups more cautious about taking in dogs, and more dogs were coming in from areas where hurricanes Irma and Harvey hit, according to Propsom. The CACC reached a crisis point earlier this month and reached out to the Friends of Animal Care and Control for help, according to Propsom. She said the ideal dog population at CACC is 200 dogs, but the shelter’s crisis point came when it was getting close to 300.
Propsom said she received a call from CACC the morning of Jan. 11 about the influx. CACC is a humane shelter, which means it tries to avoid euthanizing animals, according to Propsom. No dogs were euthanized.
Propsom said she was asked to call local rescue groups to see if they would take some dogs, but she said she had another solution, too.
“I also made the suggestion that ‘Hey, why don’t we see if we can board dogs somewhere that will loosen up that space?’” Propsom said. “Fortunately, PetSmart stepped up … and by 7 [p.m.] that night, we had 11 dogs in their own private suites with TV sets and beds and blankets and everything.”
CACC, a non-profit group, spent about $1,500 to board some dogs in the PetSmart Pet Hotel at 1101 S. Canal St. for up to two weeks, according to Propsom.
Manager of the PetSmart Pet Hotel Ashley Valentin said a total of 17 dogs from the CACC were boarded there. One of the eight dogs still available for adoption at the time of publication is a 6-year-old dog named Ladybug. Valentin said the pitbull mix is friendly and sweet.
Matthew Troka, store manager of PetSmart in the South Loop, said part of PetSmart’s mission is to help animals in need and the dogs were welcome to stay at the hotel.
“As long as we were within the stipulations we need for a pet staying at our hotel, there really isn’t any difference,” Troka said. “They’re pets and looking for family, and as long as they had their vaccinations we’re more than happy to have them hang out for a while.”
Other rescue groups including PAWS Chicago took dogs from the CACC. Associate Director of Media Relations Sarah McDonald said in an email to The Phoenix PAWS is the largest transfer partner for CACC and took in more than 1,300 animals in 2017.
The CACC is also proactive in helping clear dogs from its shelter.
Some people who adopt a dog from the CACC and complete an obedience course will get a $100 rebate. The offer runs until Feb. 18. Normally, it costs $65 to adopt a dog through the CACC.
Another offer from Friends of Animal Care and Control is giving $100-200 to rescue groups who take dogs who have been at the shelter for at least 30 days at CACC through the end of January, according to a statement from the mayor’s office in an email to The Phoenix.
Propsom said this offer is helpful for rescue groups to cover medical services and health checks.
The situation at the CACC resonates with some people at Loyola.
Loyola’s therapy dog Santos is from Orphans of the Storm animal shelter, The Phoenix previously reported. Wellness Center Director Joan Holden said adopting a dog in need was especially important. Tivo, the previous therapy dog, wasn’t from a shelter, but he was adopted from a family who couldn’t care for him anymore, according to Holden.
“It’s keeping with the mission of the university to look at social justice on many different levels and one of them is the justice of animals who need homes,” Holden said. “It was a priority of the university to adopt a dog that needed a home.”
Art history professor Sarita Heer adopted her dog from a shelter, and said she felt frustrated because some people don’t fully understand the commitment behind owning a dog.
“They want something perfect so a lot of people buy dogs from breeders,” Heer said. “What they don’t understand [is] that the dog is a lot of work. They don’t realize you have to walk it, you have to feed it, you have to pay attention to it. You can’t be out all day and ignore it because [dogs] like company. So what these people do is they buy these dogs and then they just dispose them at the pound because it becomes too much work.”
Loyola sophomore Arcadia Schmid said she thinks adopting rescue dogs is especially important for older dogs. Schmid, 19, said her family adopted their dog from a shelter in Wisconsin.
“We got her when she was seven and no one else wanted her,” the economics and political science double major said. “Three other families had gotten her and turned her down because she’s not the brightest, but she’s really sweet. I think it’s important to look at the older population of animals just to give them a chance, too.”
CACC is located at 2741 S. Western Ave. and is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. PAWS Chicago is at 1997 N. Clybourn Ave.