I've spent a lot of my free time helping dogs in rescue since 2007. Sadly (and embarrassingly), one of the places I've helped the least is Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC). This is due to a number of personal reasons, none of which were the facility or dogs themselves.
In August of 2019, I started leading CRISP shifts with my friend Emily, as well as working with her to pull dogs from CACC, (both) for Second City Canine Rescue (SCCR). I've grown to know the staff at Animal Control, work directly with them and the dogs and decided that one of my DECADE RESOLUTIONS (ahem) was to start volunteering at our local intake shelter, myself. Every time I worked a CRISP shift or went with Emily to check out some dogs SCCR was interested in rescuing, I felt a deeper draw to volunteer. I've spent hours stalking adoption event photos, waiting for the dogs I've met in person to find their forever homes. Clearly it's time, right?
During this month's Bissell Empty the Shelter event at Animal Control I saw a post pleading to help them reach over 3,000 adoptions for 2019. This adoption total is DOUBLE what it was two years ago. This excited me so much and nudged me further, to finally sign up and inspired me to challenge you all to do the same. So, I reached out to Tara Majeed and asked her to write a blog about her inspiring volunteer work in helping our local intake shelter flourish and reach these record breaking numbers. I asked her to share how our amazing community of dog lovers can do more at the ground level. Imagine how many more dogs (and cats) could be saved if everyone decided it was time to volunteer!!!
Here is the AMAZING information Tara has put together. Including the links for how to get involved. I have reserved my spot for the January 4th Orientation. Email me, and let me know if you'll join me.
Happy New Year (new decade) Friends. How do you resolve to help more dogs?
xo - jes
As we close out 2019, we wanted to talk about another huge rescue-related success in our city: Chicago Animal Care & Control, Chicago’s municipal shelter, surpassed 3,000 adoptions for the year! As of December 30, 2019, the exact number is 3,087.
For the sake of comparison, here are the adoption numbers from prior years:
CACC is an open-access shelter, meaning that no animal can be turned away regardless of its health or temperament. These types of shelters are often referred to as “kill shelters.” In 2018, just over 16,000 animals came into CACC. Animals come into the shelter as strays, by being surrendered by their owners, or by being confiscated.
While we won’t have final 2019 numbers for a bit, the expectation is that the total intake of animals for 2019 increased but so will the shelter’s live release rate (LRR) - the number of animals that leave the shelter alive. In 2018 that figure was 91%. Dogs either leave by being adopted, or by being rescued by rescue organizations that are part of our approved Homeward Bound partner program.
There are a lot of factors to which all of these great things this can be attributed, but today we want to focus more on how you can help continue these upward trends and save more lives!
So, how can you help save more lives at CACC?
Volunteer. I’ll admit, I was hesitant to become a volunteer at CACC. I thought it would be sad and scary and that I’d want to take home every dog. Only one of those things is actually true. The time that I spend with the dogs is, by far, the most fulfilling volunteer work I’ve ever done. So many of the dogs that come into the shelter have had it rough until that point, and for many of them living there is an upgrade. They’re inside, they have beds and blankets, they get fed twice a day and get lots of treats & love from volunteers. The way I think about it is, the time I spend with them may be the happiest, most loving time that they’ve ever experienced and I’m so lucky to get to be a part of that.
CACC is one of the lowest funded government-run shelters in the entire country. The closest comparable shelter in the US has a budget 50% greater than ours. Houston’s budget is 3x ours and Los Angeles’ is close to 5x ours. Because of this, much of the work falls on volunteers because the paid shelter staff are spread too thin. Without volunteers, the dogs do not even get out of their kennels each day.
As a CACC volunteer, here are some of the things you get to do:
CACC’s next volunteer orientation is on Saturday, January 4th. Additional dates and more information can be found here: https://bit.ly/2ZAbj6m
Foster. If you aren’t ready to adopt but want to provide a dog or cat with a temporary loving home while it searches for its forever, fostering is a great option! To take in a foster, you partner with a local rescue organization and give the animal a safe place to land while it waits to be adopted. Medical expenses and supplies are covered by the rescue. If you need help with transportation, daycare/walks or anything else that would keep you from fostering an animal, local non-profit Rescue Chicago can offer additional support. Rescue Chicago will also match you to a rescue that will best suit your needs, wants and experience level if you fill out this foster match survey: https://bit.ly/36aIMHh
Doggie Day Out. In October, CACC launched its Doggie Day Out program where you can take a dog out on a field trip! Every day from 11-4pm (except on weekends when there are adoption events) you can take a dog out of the shelter and out on the town! Learning about the dog outside of the shelter has proven to be integral to matching it to adopters and some of the dogs have even been adopted by people they met while on their field trips! More information about the program can be found here: https://bit.ly/2Q7MT15
Donate. Due to its limited budget, CACC is only able to provide the bare minimum to the animals - food, water & shelter. The rest comes from donors BUT because CACC is a city entity, it cannot fundraise. So this spring I, along with two other CACC volunteers, started a 501(c)(3) called Rescue Chicago that fundraises for the shelter and provides supplies, medical sponsorships and other vital services to the animals. Many of the dogs also have sturdy Kuranda beds that were donated via a joint fundraiser between Real Dog Moms and Rescue in Style last year!
If you’d like to donate items: https://amzn.to/2MGAhvK
If you’d like to make a tax-deductible monetary donation: http://rescuechi.com/donate/
If you’d like to do your own shopping and deliver your donations to the shelter, here are some items that are always needed:
Social Media. If you can’t do any of the above, sharing animals on social media really does help! For example, on Saturday I posted about a dog named Erma who was the longest term dog at the shelter. The post was shared 124 times, and a young couple saw the post. Yesterday they got to the shelter as soon as it opened and, you guessed it, they adopted Erma!
If you don’t already, you can follow https://www.facebook.com/CACCadoptables/ and https://www.facebook.com/cacctransferteam/ on Facebook and share their posts!
Pledging is another way you can help on social media. More information about pledging can be found here: https://bit.ly/2ZJzVtG
Educate. Take every chance you get to inform people about CACC, its adoption program, fostering, and what THEY can do to help save the animals. Many people are unaware that CACC even exists, or think that supporting a “kill shelter” is a bad thing, or that rescue animals are somehow damaged goods. If you have a rescue pet of your own, let them help you spread the word too. The more people we can educate, the more lives we can save together!
THANK YOU for wanting to help Chicago’s neediest animals!
Tara Majeed is a volunteer and adoption counselor at Chicago Animal Care and Control. She’s also the co-founder of Rescue Chicago. If you have any questions, ideas, or want to get more involved you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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