Tag Archives: Cook County Commissioners

Why is Cook County Animal and Rabies Control a Secret?

 

Two years ago, Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey requested an audit by its Inspector General of Cook County Animal and Rabies Control (CCARC).   Eight months later on August 21, 2014, Cook County Inspector General Pat Blanchard presented the summary of Operational Review of the Department of CCACC. This was just a 15-page summary of an 80 page report.

On September 25, 2015, Lost Dogs Illinois’s (LDI) director filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the President of the Cook County Board and the office of the Cook County Inspector General (IG) to receive the full and complete Operational Review of the CCARC from which the summary was prepared. The LDI Director was denied the full and complete report by the Inspector General’s office. The President’s office said they did not have the complete report in their possession. The LDI Director then filed for a review of the denial to the Attorney General’s Public Access Officer. The Public Access Officer upheld the denial.

On December 8, 2015, the LDI Director along with a LDI adviser, met with Martha Martenez, Cook County’s Director of Administration, who oversees the department of Cook County Animal and Rabies Control. A discussion was had concerning several issues and solutions in regard to the report.

A year after the IG released the Summary Report, the LDI Director made another FOIA request of the Cook County Board President’s Office and the Inspector General’s office to find out the outcome of all the recommendations in the report. Both sent back denials. The LDI Director then sent a request for review of the denial to the Public Access Officer who then contacted the President’s office. After several contacts, the President’s office sent the Public Access officer the 10/2015 letter that was sent to the Inspector General’s office (standard 90 day follow-up letter).

It has been two years since Commissioner John Fritchey asked for a complete study of CCARC. It took the IG department 8 months to do this operational review. Nothing has really changed.

Lost Dogs Illinois believes in change for the better for Cook County residents and their pets.   As stated by our Director at the Cook County Commissioner’s Budget Committee meeting (11/3/2016) “I am not discounting the importance of rabies and public safety but I really believe it is time to reexamine the mission of this Department and reorganize CCARC to provide better services. Cook County is the 2nd largest county in the US, we should be proud to offer an efficient way for owners get their loved family members back.”

We also would to state that according to the Fiscal Year 2017 Preliminary Budget – Special Purpose Fund Outlook Cook County is showing approximately $8.6 million fund in the Special Purpose Fund. What is the purpose of the fund and how is it helping Cook County residents and their four legged family members?

If you are as concerned about this issue as we are, please contact your Cook County Commissioner. You can find out who your Commissioner is by clicking on the link below.  Tell them that you want an Animal Control Department, which better serves the community and their pets.

List of Cook County Commissioners

Further reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is Now or Never

Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog Be Held in Cook County

Part-2 – Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog Be Held In Cook County

Inspector General Report Cook County Animal and Rabies Control

Action Alert – It is Now or Never

Action Alert – Cook County animal and Rabies Control

Bowser, come home – Why lost pets stay lost in Cook County – Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

Chicago Reader – Welcome to the Cook County Animal Maze

Follow-Up – Cook County Commissioner’s Budget Meeting – November 2015

Follow-up Meeting with Cook County President’s Staff

 

 

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Lizzie’s Story – Persistent Owner Finds Her Dog Despite Dysfunctional Animal Control System in Cook County, Illinois

Lizzie’s story as told by her owner…..

My dog was gone for 5 days and authorities still took money from me even though they never had her.

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Lizzie before she went missing.

Last Wednesday-Around 2:40 – I let my 2 dogs outside in our backyard to go to the bathroom before I went to work. The gate was closed and there was nothing to worry about.

At 2:43 – I went out to see if they were done and the front gate was slightly open. I freaked out and went to the yard to find our family’s oldest dog there but my other dog was missing. I went inside to get my little brother and he walked around the neighborhood while I drove around. We didn’t see her anywhere. We thought she would be where we usually goes on walks but we couldn’t find her in any yard and nobody had seen her.

At 2:53 – I called my mom. She told me to go to work and my brother and dad would find her. I was stressing out and I could barely work without crying my eyes out.

At 5:30, -my boss let me go on a 2 1/2 lunch to see if I could find her because my dad and brother weren’t able to yet. I knew that they looked on every block in Broadview.   So I decided to head to Broadview Police station and give them my dog’s information. I then went home and called the microchip company to report her missing and to make sure all my contact information is correct because she didn’t have a collar on since she was going to take a bath that day. I then went to go search Maywood since we live 2 blocks away.

Around 6:50 – I was driving down 10th avenue in Maywood when I saw a group of men. I asked if they had seen a black dog and they said they saw a dog that was black with brown stripes walking down 10th. I called my dad and started going block to block to see if I could find her. I didn’t have any luck and I got nervous and wondered if she went on the highway. I checked the other side of the highway and saw two Cook County sheriff officers. I told them what happened and if they received a call for a dog. They told me that they don’t receive those calls, but if Maywood finds her they have a scanner so she would be brought home the same day if they scanned her.

At 7:14, – I registered her on helpinglostpets.com after my mom gave me the website.

At 7:32 – I called my dad and told him my progress and he said that they will go and search Maywood. I went back to work

At 10:38 – I messaged Lost Dogs Illinois and told them what happened. They said to fill out the sheet, which I did and her post went on their page. I finished work at midnight and I still didn’t have my little girl.

Thursday- 11:30 – I started my extreme search to all shelters around the neighborhood. My first call was to Animal Care League in Oak Park. They stated that they receive dogs from River Forest, Oak Park, Forest Park, and North Riverside so if she went in those areas they would have her. I gave the lady my information and Lizzies chip number and hoped she would be found. They told me to call the police stations to see where they brought dogs if they were lost. Broadview and Maywood takes their found dogs to Broadview Animal Hospital.

At 11:43 -I called Broadview Animal Hospital. They said they never received my dog but if she was found, they have a microchip scanner and I would be called.

At 2:51 – I called the Forest Park police station before work. They said they never received a dog but if they did they would take the dog to Animal Care League.

At 2:53, I called Melrose Park Police and they stated that the only dog they have is a small brown male dog. I gave them Lizzie’s information

On my lunch break at 7:00, I drove around Maywood and to see if anyone else saw her and no one did. Went to bed around midnight without Lizzie girl

Friday-At 8:00 am – I went on a walk through Maywood and these two men told me to call Maywood Animal Control. I tried and couldn’t get a hold of them.

At 11:42 – I called The Code Enforcement Department and the lady at the front desk named Karyn said that she would have animal control call me back because he was in court.

At 2:00 – everyone was telling me to call them back so I did and no one was answering. I then called 8 times from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and never had anyone answer.

At 4:00 – I told my dad that we needed to go to the village hall because I didn’t feel right and no one was calling me. We arrived around 4:17 and the lady at the front desk yelled at the animal control man for not calling me after she gave him my number to update me. He showed me a picture of Lizzie and asked if it was my dog and I said YES! And he went to the radio to ask if the dog is at the Broadview Animal Hospital and the man said that there is a pitbull at the hospital not a retriever and the man looked confused and asked again if that was my dog and I said yes and she is not a pitbull. “Trust me I have a pitbull at home.” He then told me I had to fill out release papers and pay a 65 dollar fee for 2 days that she was in the Hospital. He stated that a family found her on 7th avenue on the 1900 block and she let 4 little kids surround her and pet her. I filled the paperwork out, paid the cashier and my dad and I went to the animal hospital.

At 4:53 – we arrived and no one was there. We called the number and nobody picked up so we called back to the code enforcement (which close at 5) at 4:54 and no one picked up so I had to wait another day to go pick up Lizzie.

Saturday -The day we finally thought we were going to have her. I worked 7-4 that day, but I asked my manager if I could take an early lunch to pick her up at 9:00 when it opens and he allowed me. My parents and I arrived at 9:04. They opened at 9:00 and no one was there. The lights were on so we thought someone had to be there. I called them 8 times, then I called the village hall which was closed.

A man finally came in and made me fill out paperwork for 30 minutes and he went to the back to get the dog. He brought out a small black dog and a pitbull. Neither were my dog. We showed him a picture and he stated that he never seen that dog and he doesn’t know “why the hell they made you pay”. He instructed us to go to the police department to see what happened and we went over there. The dispatch said they have nothing to do with this and we would have to wait for animal control to go back to work on Monday.

I had to go back to work, so my parents dropped me off and went back. The man showed them the intake records they keep and no dog was received from the location they told me. He told my parents that Maywood has sent multiple families there searching for dogs that has never been there but this is the only time that he has ever seen someone pay for a dog that they didn’t have. They went to Animal Care League and looked at the dogs and didn’t see her.

At 2:57 – I called North Riverside police and they never caught a dog.

At 3:02 – I called Berwyn police and they also had not seen or gotten a call about a dog.

The rest of the day we were watching the Facebook pages hoping someone would see her and driving around the neighborhoods to try and get a glimpse of her. We had a close family friend print out flyers that someone made for us and we posted them on the poles of the street she was found and put a flyer of each of the houses mailbox or door hoping someone would call to tell us what happened.

The man at the Broadview Animal Hospital called the cops, which said that an Officer named Guzman answered the call for Lizzie. Someone on Facebook found his number. We called and left a message. Many people emailed other officials including the mayor of Maywood. No one received a message back. My mom went to the police station to talk to a Sgt. Fairley and he said that it is not his problem.

Many people were sharing and giving advice (which we thank) and we had my friends and others posting on news channels such as WGN, ABC, FOX, and NBC. My mom even emailed those said news stations to see if they can help

We started to run out of options. We contacted media, posted on Facebook, talked to unwilling police officers in Maywood and the only thing we had left was to go to the village hall to demand my dog back as well as my money

A few people told us to look at the Bellwood shed to see if she was there and we decided to go over there. The only dog they had was a pitbull who was very excited to see us.

The rest of the day I planned out what I was going to say because I wanted to be as calm as I could be to receive my dog without any problems.

Monday at 8:30 – my dad and I went to the village hall. Everyone looked at us confused as to why we were there. I looked an officer in the face and said “my dog was not at the animal hospital.” He went to the back and asked what happened.   He came over to me and stated that she was not taken to the animal hospital. The front desk lady said ‘Oh yea! Guzman, you couldn’t take the dog right? Because you didn’t have the truck” In which he replied that he was instructed to leave the dog.

The officers went to the house where they left her at with my dad and my dad showed the family the flyer that was on their door and they were saying “Oh yea that’s the dog we found.” They gave her away to someone in Melrose Park because they have 2 small dogs.

I was told I would receive a phone call which I did at 9:34 a.m. which was from the family that originally found the dog. They said they called code enforcement 3 times and no one answered so he told me the man’s number and said that the man gets off at 5 so we could get the dog then

I went to the code enforcement to get my refund and they stated that they were going to the man’s house at 5:30 to get the dog and that they would bring her home

I went again at 11:00 to see what was going on with my refund and they said it would come on Friday. I asked if I could go with to get my dog because I didn’t trust them and they said they don’t allow people to meet because something could go wrong. (This doesn’t make sense because they asked if we wanted to go with to the family that had her and gave us their address). A man pulled me in his office and apologized and stated that someone should have picked up Lizzie and dropped her off at the animal hospital. He said he had a meeting with everyone to see what happened but didn’t give me any details.

At 5:00 – I received a call from a teenager stating that we needed to meet earlier because they have other things to do then watch over a dog and to pay up because they took care of the dog.

Right after, I called the Maywood police and they stated that it is not their problem because it now involves Melrose Park police. I told them that it actually does involve them because it was their code enforcement that screwed up in the first place and they were the ones picking her up. He said that he can’t help and there’s nothing he can do.

I received a call from the code enforcement at 5:30 and they said they had the dog outside. I went out and Lizzie was finally home.

At 9:14, I received a call from the man that pulled me in his office and he wanted to make sure his employees dropped my dog off.

Lizzie is now back at home and so happy. We appreciate everyone that posted about her and helped us along the way because it kept me sane. What Maywood did  not go unnoticed and I hope that this doesn’t happen to another family. Thank you so much and hug your fur babies a little tighter tonight because you never know what can happen.

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Lizzie is HOME!

From Lost Dogs Illinois…..

Many long time fans and supporters have read our numerous blogs about how dysfunctional the system is in Cook County.

To refresh your memories, here they are the blogs:

Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog Be Held In Cook County.

Part 2 – Where Oh Where Could My Lost Dog Be Held in Cook County

Inspector General Report – Cook County Animal and Rabies Control

Browser Come Home – Why Lost Pets Stay Lost in Cook County – Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

Action Alert – Cook County Animal and Rabies Control

Follow-up – Cook County Commissioners Budget Meeting – November 3, 2015

Follow -up on LDI’s meeting with the Mayor’s staff and Cook County’s President’s staff

Knowledge is POWER!   YOUR Taxes and Fees pay the government officials and employees. What the government seems to forget that these are loved family members and they should be doing everything possible to reunite “found” dogs with their owners.

 

 

 

Follow-up: Cook County Commissioners Meeting – November 3, 2015

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Last Tuesday, several concerned citizens including LDI volunteers attended the Cook County Commissioners Meeting in regards to issues about Cook County Animal and Rabies Control. We try to keep our supporters and fans up to date on issues that affect getting lost dogs back to their rightful home.  As many of you know, Lost Dogs Illinois supported the petition to reform Cook County Animal and Rabies Control.

Here are the four public statements in support of the petition:

Public statement #1

My name is Susan Taney, Director of Lost Dogs Illinois, a not for profit organization which provides a free service to help families find their lost dogs. Our FB page has over 100,000 fans and since our inception in December 2010 over 16,000 dogs have been reunited with their families

A year ago, I, along with numerous others, made public statements in regards to the Department of Cook County Animal and Rabies Control. Commissioner John Fritchey heard our concerns and initiated the Inspector General report.

I would like to address statements that were made at the budget meeting and ask if it is time to reconsider the department’s mission. Currently the mission is to provides health protection to the residents of Cook County through preparation, education, rabies vaccination and stray animal control

In the last few decades, the status of dogs has been elevated from the barnyard, to the back yard and now to our bedrooms. Our dogs are now loved family members.

With the maze of stray holding facilities in Cook County, it is very difficult for families to find their missing dogs. Approximately 50 municipalities are contracted with Animal Welfare League; 14 with Golf Rose Boarding Facility; 5 with Animal Care League and with other municipalities using vet clinics, animal shelters, police departments. etc. to hold stray dogs. Many dogs are not reunited with their families. They are adopted out, transferred to another shelter/rescue or euthanized. A centralized database would make it easier for families to find their lost dogs and assure more dogs are reunited. A simple FREE solution is to use Helping Lost Pets, centralized national map based website. The county and other municipalities could start using it now. Lost Dog Illinois along with over 25 states have already partnered with HeLP.

Commissioner Fritchey commented on the kill rate of Animal Welfare League. In 2014 Animal Welfare League took in approximately 14,500 animals and euthanized approximately 7,900 animals. 53 municipalities and Cook County contract with AWL. The bar of excellence should be set high for AWL in getting lost dogs home and saving lives.

Recently CCARC added a Lost Pets section to their website. After reviewing the website there are many stray hold facilities that are not listed. Animal Care League as well as vet clinics and police departments that act as holding facilities in Cook County have been omitted. Also, our organization Lost Dogs Illinois is not listed as a resource to help families find their lost dogs. Our site provides free flyers, tips, resources and community support to help families find their lost dogs.

I am not discounting the importance of rabies and public safety but I really believe it is time to reexamine the mission of this Department and reorganize CCARC to provide better services. Cook County is the 2nd largest county in the US, we should be proud to offer an efficient way for owners get their loved family members back.

Public Statement #2

My name is Becky Monroe, LDI Volunteer

I think that the issues with Animal Control can best be expressed by reading a piece by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board published Sept 8 entitled, “Why lost pets stay lost in Cook County.”  The piece started by talking about what to do if you’re trying to find your lost pet.

Reading from the article:

“Don’t expect much help from Cook County’s Department of Animal and Rabies Control. It doesn’t operate a shelter and doesn’t consider reuniting lost pets with their families a big part of its mission. In a report last month, the county’s inspector general made a good case that it ought to, and we agree. Especially since the IG’s six-month review left us shaking our heads at what the department actually does.

Animal Control is about rabies, mostly. It gets most of its funding from the sale of rabies tags — and spends much of that money to pay employees to type the rabies tag data into a very old computer system.

There are 22 full-time employees, and 13 of them spend most of their time processing tags, often earning comp time for working during their lunch hours, according to the IG’s report.

Most of the data is submitted by clinics, shelters, veterinarians and rescue groups that perform the actual rabies vaccinations, but Animal Control’s system is so dated that the information can’t be uploaded easily, if at all. So staffers do it by hand. If this reminds you of the Cook County clerk of the circuit court office, join the club.

The IG recommends a web-based system so veterinarians and others can input the data themselves, freeing up resources for more meaningful services (like helping you find your dog.)

The office is closed nights, weekends and holidays, and the IG’s report notes that law enforcement agencies throughout the county complain that they can’t access rabies data or find an animal control officer except during banking hours.

There are six employees who patrol the unincorporated area for strays. Their workday includes time spent commuting to and from work in their take-home government vehicles. For one employee, that’s three hours a day. If heavy traffic means their door-to-door workday lasts longer than eight hours, they get comp time.

What do they do in between? The report doesn’t say, exactly, but it sounds rather aimless.”

The Tribune Editorial mirrors another article that the Tribune ran on August 4 about Animal Control failing to pick up a dog after they were notified by the Sheriff’s Office on July 13.

Reading from the article:
The dog was in the locked garage when officers arrived July 13 to evict two young men from a foreclosed house in the 11200 block of Worth Avenue. Finding that the men had moved out, officers posted an eviction notice and called the animal control department to remove the dog, according to the sheriff’s department.

But last week, Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, denied that such a call was placed, saying in an email to the Daily Southtown that animal control double checked its call log for that day after the Southtown story appeared and found no record of such a call from sheriff’s police.

But the sheriff’s department released a tape of a July 13 call in which a woman is clearly heard saying, “Cook County Animal Control, may I help you?” A sheriff’s officer then says, “Cook County Sheriff’s Police calling” and that there’s “a dog to picked up from an eviction” and giving the address in Worth.

“It’s a German shepherd in the garage,” the officer says, giving the name and phone number of the receiver, the person representing the bank, who would be waiting for animal control at the garage.

Animal control apparently never sent anyone to the house.”

How many bad news stories will it take to get this Board to make meaningful changes at Cook County Animal Control?  It seems obvious to everyone who has had interaction with Cook County Animal Control that this department is a disaster.  We are calling upon the County Board to stop ignoring this issue.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/news/ct-sta-cook-county-dog-snafu-st-0805-20150804-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-animal-control-audit-pets-edit-0909-20150908-story.html

Public Statement #3

My name is Kathy Pobloskie and I am an advisor with Lost Dogs Illinois. Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to speak today.

The vast majority of animals in shelters come from two sources. Strays, which are lost pets, and surrenders. We are here today to talk about lost pets.  In fact, the ASPCA estimates that 40 – 60% of animals in shelters are lost pets. Most of these pets do not need a new home, they simply need to go home.

Proactively reuniting lost pets with their owners should be one of the main focuses of animal control departments. When barriers prevent people from reclaiming their lost pets, the system fails. I would like to talk about one of those barriers. That barrier is inconsistency.

Currently the range of fees for Cook County stray holding facilities vary from $7 per day on the low end to $36 per day on the high end. Microchips (which are required to reclaim) range from $20 to $35 and does not include the additional cost of registration. Vaccines can cost up to $29 per vaccine. Each municipality also has it’s own impoundment fees, fines, licenses, etc.   One of the main reasons for dogs being left at a shelter is cost. By the time the owner locates them, they cannot afford to reclaim them. It is not unusual for costs to reclaim your dog to be well over $100 for a 24 hour stay at “the pound”. Then of course, there is a strong likelihood that your dog will come down with an upper respiratory infection common in crowded municipal shelters. Add veterinary costs on top of the above fees also.

Start to multiply this by a few days and pretty soon you could be looking at what could equal the car payment or rent or prescription costs or groceries for the family. Don’t forget – not everyone has a credit card or money in the bank. They might need to wait until the next payday to come and get their dog. Pretty soon, it’s become more than they can afford.

Cook County stray holding facilities are also inconsistent in their stray holding periods. They range from 3 days to 7 days. Many people work two jobs or jobs that prevent them from getting to the facility during normal business hours to check to see if their dog is there. Your dog cold be adopted out, transferred to a rescue, or even worse, killed, because you did not figure out the “system” in time. It is not uncommon for lost dogs to travel and cross into a different jurisdiction.

Standardizing fees and stray holding periods to enable the highest number of lost pets be reclaimed by their owners would go a long way to improving Cook County Animal Control. Pets are family members. Give citizens a chance to keep their families whole. This will also help save the more than 9000 animals that are killed in America’s shelters every day.

Public Statement #4

Public statement to the Cook County Commissioners on Nov. 3, 2015, regarding Cook County’s Animal and Rabies Control department and the OIIG audit and report of Aug. 21, 2015, delivered by Lydia Rypcinski, private citizen of the County of Cook and City of Chicago.

Thank you for granting time to speak before you today regarding Cook County’s Animal and Rabies Control department.

Unfortunately, it may be the last day that some beloved pets will ever know in this world. They have become lost; their owners don’t know where to find them within the labyrinth of animal control agencies that operate in Cook County; they have been given only a few days to either be claimed or adopted; and the municipal and private shelters contracted to house these animals are understaffed, under-resourced, and filled to overflowing.

So these lost pets will be killed in the name of operational expediency.

It does not have to be this way. While it is true that the mission of animal control historically has been to protect people first and animals second, much has changed in the way humans interact with what we now call “companion animals” since the passage of the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Ordinance in 1977.

It is disheartening to see CCARC’s administrator declare, “Pet reunification is not part of the department’s core mission.” She may be interpreting the letter of the law correctly while missing an essential truth in this new era: that people view their pets as extensions of their families and want – and expect – government attention and assistance when one of them is missing.

To ignore that change in the public’s perception of the services a successful animal control operation should provide is to do a disservice to the very taxpayers that support the department and office.

I call your attention to this excerpted passage from a book by Stephen Aronson entitled, “Animal Control Management: A New Look at a Public Responsibility” (Purdue University, 2010):*

“Differences in opinion notwithstanding, animal control officials need to communicate with, cooperate to the extent possible, and garner support of those who have a perceived interest in the welfare of the animals in the community . . . [Animal control] must reach out to those it serves and work with those who want to offer their help to make the community a better place for people and animals to coexist.”**

I do not believe this communication and outreach exist today, even within the department itself. When I hear Dr. Alexander state that the Animal Welfare League, which is contracted to house County strays, is in Chicago Heights when it is actually 20 miles north in Chicago Ridge and about a 15-minute drive from her headquarters in Bridgeview, I have to wonder if she has ever even visited it to see how County money is being spent. Is she aware that AWL’s own stats reveal that every animal taken there by County animal control in 2014-15 had a better than 60 percent chance of leaving that facility in a garbage bag, headed for a landfill or crematory?

Surely County money can be spent more productively and rewardingly, to reunite these animals with their families, even if it isn’t part of the department’s “core mission.”

In light of these observations, I urge the Commissioners to adopt and implement all the recommendations made in the Inspector General’s Aug. 21, 2015 audit and report, to make Cook County Animal and Rabies Control more fully responsive to the changing needs of its community. I would like to point out that you have a wellspring of animal welfare professionals and volunteers available in this area, whose talents and resources could be tapped to help bring these changes about. Please avail yourselves of these people and organizations. Thank you.

* Aronson is a former local and state government worker with experience in animal control operations.

**Chapter Nine, “Interacting with Public and Private Entities and the Citizenry,” pp. 188-189.

Action Alert! Cook County Animal and Rabies Control

Action AlertLast week we posted our action alert to encourage all Cook County Residents (including Chicago)  to please contact the President of Cook County Board and each County Commissioner Board Member and let them respectfully know that you support the recommended changes presented by the Cook County Inspector General as a FIRST step toward fixing the problems of Cook County Animal Control.

This week we have included a letter to send to each County Commissioner Board Member and the President of Cook County Board. We need to let the President and Cook County Commissioners know that the residents of Cook County overwhelmingly support changes to provide better services to the Cook County Residents and their pets. Please take a few minutes, copy and paste this letter.

Dear Commissioner ________________________,

As you are aware, the Cook County Inspector General recently completed an operational review of the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Department. The review analyzed the administration, operations, budget and overall practices of Animal Control. The report found things that taxpayers have long known to be true – that the department is woefully mismanaged and not adequately serving the public.

This report revealed several areas of concern, including:

* No centralized database for posting found dogs for Cook County.

* No facility. Nationally, it is incredibly rare for an animal control department to not operate its own facility. Cook County is one of the only local animal control agencies that does not have its own holding facility for stray animals. DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties have shelters to house stray animals, reunite pets with their owners and adopt homeless animals out.

* Millions of dollars budgeted and spent with nothing to show for it. When you compare the County’s animal control department’s budget to that of the City of Chicago, this fact is even more appalling. In 2014, the County only picked up 262 animals. In 2014 alone, the City of Chicago, with less square footage and fewer residents than the County, took in 21,037 animals!

* No central repository system (microchip numbers and rabies tags number) available to other shelters and law enforcement to reunite pets with their family quickly.

These are just a few of the items cited which are disconcerting for taxpayers and voters in Cook County.

Any pet owner in Cook County or surrounding areas is doubly concerned since a lost pet that ends up in this system has virtually no chance of being reunited with its owner and a high probability of death. I urge you to vote for and support major changes at the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control Department.

Over 60% of residents in Cook County are pet owners. They deserve a system that works to protect them and their pets. They deserve your vote for change.

Thank you,

Here is the listing of the President and the County Commissioner Board.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle  – Phone: 312.603.4600

Commissioner Richard R .Boykin  – District #1

Phone: 312.603.4566                     Richard.Boykin@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Robert B. Steele – District #2

Phone:312.603.3019                      Robert.Steele@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jerry Butler – District #3

Phone: 312.603.6391                     Jerry.Butler@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Stanley Moore – District #4

Phone: 312.603.2065                     Stanley.moore2@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Deborah Sims – District #5

Phone: 312.603.6381                     Deborah.Sims@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy – District #6

Phone: 312.603.4216                     Joan.Murphy@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jesús G. García – District #7

Phone: 312.603.5443                     Jesus.Garcia@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. – District #8

Phone: 312.603.6386                     Luis.Arroyojr@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Peter N. Silvestri – District #9

Phone: 312.603.4393                     cookcty9@aol.com

Commissioner Bridget Gainer District #10

Phone: 312.603.4210                     Bridget@bridgetgainer.com

Commissioner John P. Daley – District #11

Phone: 312.603.4400                       John.Daley@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner John A. Fritchey – District #12

If you would like to thank Commissioner Fritchey for initiating this investigation, please contact him.

commish@fritchey.com

Commissioner Larry Suffredin – District #13

Phone: 312.603.6383                     lsuffredin@aol.com

Commissioner Gregg Goslin – District #14

Phone: 312.603.4932                     Commissioner.Goslin@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Timothy O. Schneider – District #15

Phone: 312.603.6388                     Tim.Schneider@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jeffrey R. Tobolski – District #16

Phone: 312.603.6384                     Jeffrey.Tobolski@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Sean Morrison – District #17

Phone: 312.603.4215                     sean.morrison@cookcountyil.gov

 

 

 

 

Bowser, come home – Why lost pets stay lost in Cook County – Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

Your best friend, Bowser, is missing.

You’ve plastered the neighborhood with fliers, posted his mug on Facebook, circled the block for hours while holding a can of Alpo out the car window. You’ve offered up a prayer to St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, and cursed yourself for not registering that microchip. Now what?

It’s time to make the rounds at all the local shelters, come up empty and repeat. If Bowser’s been picked up and you don’t find him quickly, he could be offered for adoption or, gulp, euthanized.

Don’t expect much help from Cook County’s Department of Animal and Rabies Control. It doesn’t operate a shelter and doesn’t consider reuniting lost pets with their families a big part of its mission. In a report last month, the county’s inspector general made a good case that it ought to, and we agree. Especially since the IG’s six-month review left us shaking our heads at what the department actually does.

Animal Control is about rabies, mostly. It gets most of its funding from the sale of rabies tags — and spends much of that money to pay employees to type the rabies tag data into a very old computer system.

There are 22 full-time employees, and 13 of them spend most of their time processing tags, often earning comp time for working during their lunch hours, according to the IG’s report.

Most of the data is submitted by clinics, shelters, veterinarians and rescue groups that perform the actual rabies vaccinations, but Animal Control’s system is so dated that the information can’t be uploaded easily, if at all. So staffers do it by hand. If this reminds you of the Cook County clerk of the Circuit Court office, join the club.

The IG recommends a web-based system so veterinarians and others can input the data themselves, freeing up resources for more meaningful services (like helping you find Bowser).

Animal Control also holds low-cost rabies and microchip clinics and runs a spay/neuter rebate program to encourage pet sterilization.

The office is closed nights, weekends and holidays, and the IG’s report notes that law enforcement agencies throughout the county complain that they can’t access rabies data or find an animal control officer except during banking hours.

There are six employees who patrol the unincorporated area for strays. Their workday includes time spent commuting to and from work in their take-home government vehicles. For one employee, that’s three hours a day. If heavy traffic means their door-to-door workday lasts longer than eight hours, they get comp time.

What do they do in between? The report doesn’t say, exactly, but it sounds rather aimless. The IG recommends more supervision, along with a patrol strategy based on analytics, “not left to the discretion and judgment” of drivers. It also says work schedules “should be adjusted for improved coverage and reflective of the needs of the county.”

The big takeaway from the IG’s report, though, was the notion that Animal Control should take responsibility for unwinding the frustrating “maze” that prevents lost pets in Cook County from finding their way home.

Animal Control contracts with a shelter in Chicago Ridge to take in animals impounded by the county. Chicago sends its strays to a shelter in Little Village. A few suburbs have their own facilities. Then there are more than a dozen nonprofit shelters and rescue groups. Together, they take in 50,000 animals a year. Bowser could end up at any one of them.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says fewer than 30 percent of dogs that come in as strays — and fewer than 5 percent of cats — are claimed by an owner. Those odds are likely worse in Cook County because owners don’t know where to start. It makes sense for them to start with Animal Control, the IG says.

The agency’s website should provide a road map for the search, the report says, with a list of all the shelters and rescue groups, including phone numbers and Internet links. It could also include a registry that can be accessed by the public to upload posts and photos about lost and found pets, and a database of microchip registrations and rabies tag numbers to help shelters and local police identify animals they pick up. T

hat would be a real service to the people whose rabies tag fees fund Animal Control, and the costs would be more than covered if the agency adopted the efficiencies recommended in the IG’s report. That would be a tail-wagging outcome for everyone. Especially Bowser.

Thank you, Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, for this insightful editorial on Cook County Animal and Rabies Control!  Published September 9, 2015 – Chicago Tribune.

It is Now Or Never!

 

Action AlertAt the request of Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey, the Cook County Independent Inspector General (OIIG) conducted an 8 month audit of Cook County Animal Control.  On August 21, 2015, the OIIG released its audit summary.    The OIIG found many failures in regards to providing services to Cook County residents and their pets.  Cook County is funded by rabies tag monies, which are paid by Cook County residents (including Chicago).

Summary

  • No centralized database for posting found dogs for Cook County.
  • No facility (FY 2015 $4 million budget – 2014 intake 262 animals; compared to City of Chicago Animal Care and Control FY2015 $5.5 million – 2014 intake 21,037 animals)
  • No listing of Cook County stray holding facilities on the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control website  (approx. 37 different facilities in Cook County that hold strays).
  • No central repository system (microchip numbers and rabies tags number) available to other shelters and law enforcement to reunite pets with their family quickly.

All these failures lead to an ineffective system of reuniting lost dogs with their families.  Pets are family members.   They should be treated as such.

Cook County Residents (including Chicago)

Please contact the President of Cook County Board and each County Commissioner Board Member and let them respectfully know that you support the recommended changes presented by the Cook County Inspector General as a FIRST step toward fixing the problems of Cook County Animal Control.

Here is the listing of the President and the County Commissioner Board.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle  – Phone: 312.603.4600

Commissioner Richard R .Boykin  – District #1

Phone: 312.603.4566                     Richard.Boykin@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Robert B. Steele – District #2

Phone:312.603.3019                      Robert.Steele@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jerry Butler – District #3

Phone: 312.603.6391                     Jerry.Butler@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Stanley Moore – District #4

Phone: 312.603.2065                     Stanley.moore2@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Deborah Sims – District #5

Phone: 312.603.6381                     Deborah.Sims@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy – District #6

Phone: 312.603.4216                     Joan.Murphy@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jesús G. García – District #7

Phone: 312.603.5443                     Jesus.Garcia@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. – District #8

Phone: 312.603.6386                     Luis.Arroyojr@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Peter N. Silvestri – District #9

Phone: 312.603.4393                     cookcty9@aol.com

Commissioner Bridget Gainer District #10

Phone: 312.603.4210                     Bridget@bridgetgainer.com

Commissioner John P. Daley – District #11

Phone: 312.603.4400                       John.Daley@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner John A. Fritchey – District #12

If you would like to thank Commissioner Fritchey for initiating this investigation, please contact him.

commish@fritchey.com

Commissioner Larry Suffredin – District #13

Phone: 312.603.6383                     lsuffredin@aol.com

Commissioner Gregg Goslin – District #14

Phone: 312.603.4932                     Commissioner.Goslin@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Timothy O. Schneider – District #15

Phone: 312.603.6388                     Tim.Schneider@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Jeffrey R. Tobolski – District #16

Phone: 312.603.6384                     Jeffrey.Tobolski@cookcountyil.gov

Commissioner Sean Morrison – District #17

Phone: 312.603.4215                     sean.morrison@cookcountyil.gov

We need to let the President and Cook County Commissioners know that the residents of Cook County overwhelmingly support changes to provide better services to the Cook County Residents and their pets.