Archive for April, 2012

Why Mandatory Spay/Neuter will not Solve the Problem

April 25, 2012

There is statistical evidence that  the animal shelters andf humane groups  had gotten the message out in a ‘good economy’ (1980s—2000): it is NOT a good idea to breed your pet dog for fun and/or profit.  hveing your pet fixed is a good idea for the health of your dog as well as the well being of your community.

In fact, most of the  dogs & cats in animal shelters are not from either commercial (puppy mill) breeders, or ethical hobby breeders—but the idiots breeding for fun & profit;  the backyard breeders:  witness the number of Pit Bulls in shelters—more than any other breed.

Well known story among Chicago pet enthusiasts:  a banker & family go to Greece for the summer, & play with stray dogs on the beach, and  someone tells the banker’s wife that all the strays will be killed at the end of the tourist season.  She is horrified by this. Does she start an animal shelter in Greece?  No—-too difficult.  She starts an animal shelter in Chicago. A NO-KILL SHELTER.  But the thing is, she does not take in stray dogs or owner surrenders:  she sends out PICKERS to the  pounds & shelters that are OPEN ADMISSION & TAKE ALL  ABANDONED PETS & she has the pickers choose which ones get to be saved & not killed.  Yes, she does take the  occasional crippled dog, but most of what the pickers bring in are young dogs that will move quickly.

Her Public Relations efforts are excellent. Through vagaries, she has the public thinking  her shelter is an OPEN ADMISSIONS shelter.  Whenever they have a fund raising event, the photos of attendees (mostly with purebred dogs) are always featured.

Now…wait a doggone minute. I am a fancier of purebred dogs, and I also support shelters and rescues!  But here’s the thing:  I don’t delude myself & others into thinking this  animal welfare model is better than open admissions—& this is EXACTLY what this shelter does.

I wouldn’t even bother addressing this. She saves  dogs  and cats, and saves many that would be euthanized due to overcrowding, but she has the audacity to promote mandatory spay neuter.

Here’s the problem:  the law can not be enforced.  I don’t know about YOUR STATE, or municipality (  Michael Lewis, “California  and Bust” http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2011/11/michael-lewis-201111), but mine is broke.  It does not, as a state, enforce animal cruelty or animal housing laws, and our  anti-cruelty laws, locally, are only enforced when there is a police action.

I keep referring to Craigslist. Even though the rules are clearly posted:  NO ANIMAL SALES OR BREEDING…rehoming fee ok…& most of the community understands this as meaning trying to place a single, or maybe 2 or 3 older pets, not selling animals you bred….because CRAIGSLIST does not enforce its own rules, but instead relies on the community to enforce the rules…backyard breeders & sellers post every day.

From the end of Janurary until the end of April 2012, I flagged over 120 posts for Pit Bull puppy litters alone. This did not include the single 5, 6, 7, and 8 week old puppies, or litters of other breeds. It was only in Chicago. But clearly, these breeders will not be stopped by mandatory spay/neuter.

I have an older, champion Saluki. I never planned to breed him, but I do show him.  I am the target.  It is the responsible hobbyists & fanciers who will be forced to comply—as we will be turned in to authorities by the backyard breeders. It will look like they—the enforcers—- are doing something, enforcing the law—but the funny (not) irony is, they could go on Craigslist, pay these breeders a visit, confiscate the puppies, fine the breeders.  Problem ends in 6 months, I venture a guess.

The shelters…like the  elite one I mentioned above, could have volunteers  respond to the posts, pay a visit, turn the info into enforcement authorities.  It won’t happen.  Instead, the enforcers will request veterinary records, and contact us that way.  The veterinarian making any bit of money off the bad breeders will be turning in hobbyists & protecting their commercial clients.  The commercial clients, breeding pets as livestock, will cry out a loss of livlihood and be defended by PIJAC a(the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council lobby group).

A better idea (because, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem), is to have the breeders/SELLERS ( now, we have the pet shops that buy whole litters)  collect a neutering tax—to be refunded in part when the  puppy buyer spays/neuters his pet.  Again–easy enough to find these people: they post their puppies for sale.  You don’t collect a tax, & turn it in, YOU are fined.

O am positive the ethical hobby breeders would do this, & their buyers would not object to paying the tax….but I would bet anything  we would end the  backyard breeders income generating projects in less than 2 years.  Remeber, this has to be done on a state level.  Comments?

Courts, justice—it’s not like on TV

April 19, 2012

Do you watch  crime shows on television?  I love the Law & Order franchise, and  one of my favorites is The Good Wife.  But those are dramas. This is not how justice really works. It takes forever….

Years ago, I was asked to be a community advocate addressing crimes in my police beat. I live in a high density (many  apartment buildings )  mixed income (they used to call us the ghetto) neighborhood in Chicago.

We’d go to court because  people were arrested for  selling drugs, mugging old ladies,  vandalism, public urination, and sometimes shooting  someone.

Problem was,  they’d bond out of police custody & not show up.  You think you have to show up?  You don’t.  If they catch you again, you have no choice. You  go into custody—but that’s the thing: the police have to catch you again. So, say the defendant does show up.  He believe s he was wrongly arrested. He gets out because the police don’t show up.  So  3/4 of the time, because the defendant was charged with a misdemeanor or skipped bail,  nothing happens. It was a waste  of time.

I now  work with a non-profit group that  addresses violence done to animals.  Could be dog fighting, could be  hoarding, could be actual physical abuse or neglect:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-police-man-boy-post-puppytorture-videos-to-youtube-20120309,0,609661.story

Because we are better coordinated with both the police AND the  State’s Attorney’s office, these guys are rarely getting out on bail.  But it’s not like on TV.  First, there is an arraignment.  We are usually not around for that.  The defendant can still bond out, but often they can’t afford bond—or they know the system.  They aren’t working, & if they pay the bond, then they can’t have a public defender, so they don’t make the bond (10% of what the bond is).  Often,  they are out on probation, and  have violated probation, so they go back to jail.

Sometimes, they  go for trial, and their lawyer isn’t prepared, or asks for more discovery, or the prosecuting attorney isn’t in court, or the police haven’t been notified,,, so there is a postponement and the case is continued.  Sometimes the judge is late to court, or other  cases take longer, so the  defendant’s attorney has to leave…so the case is continued.  The defendant’s attorney asks for discovery (review of evidence, or time to find more evidence that would prove his client innocent) and the case is continued.

Who all is in court besides the defendant?  Usually family, friends, & us advocates. You can’t read while court is in session, nor can you talk. You just sit there, & then, hopefully, you can hear what is going on. The acoustics in most Chicago court rooms are so bad, & the judge is not speaking to the gallery, but the people right in front of him, and then, they often use so much legal jargon.

However, as I’ve stated in the past, we follow these cases and try to make sure justice is served. We are the animals’ voice.  Because we are there, the judges know that the community has an interest in seeing justice served, and we are the tipping point.

I beg any of you  who are either retired, on some sort of disability, or unemployed to seek out your local animal shelters or rescues & ask  if you can develop a program like ours, or contact http://www.DAWGsite.org for more information.  Can you spare 1 morning a month of sitting there, doing nothing,  getting to know prosecuting attornies and the police to make sure the animals are represented.  Because…I have to tell you …the bad guys? They arn’t just abusing animals. They are preying on your entire community.

What a mess! Letter to Chicago Alderman

April 12, 2012

I sent this letter to my alderman, hoping to plant a seed. They  are terribly overpaid for the work they do. In fact, they have gotten us into a terrible fiscal mess by rubber stamping budgets submitted by out past mayor,  Hizzoner Junior, Richard M. Daley, and our current one, Rahm Emmanuel.

***

I am writing to you for two  reasons.  One is because of bad police service, & the other is because Chicago Animal Care & Control needs more money.

Last week, on a Saturday night, I let my dogs out in the yard and they started going crazy.  So, I went down to see what had gotten them so excited.  There was a cat in my stairwell.  So, I brought my dogs upstairs & hoped the cat would go home.

It did not go home. It was on my 2nd floor porch at  7:A.M. on Sunday morning. I had to go to work.  It was obviously not leaving because it had no where to go. My experience with pets has been that the cat that hangs around an environment where it almost got killed really  has no idea where to go.  It was either left by someone who moved, or, more unlikely, got out of its new home.

Anyone who knows animals and rescue knows that no animal shelter in Chicago takes lost pets—-They are supposed to go to Animal Care & Control.  CACC is a 30 mile round trip from my house.  So, my gut reaction was to take it to the 24th district police station—only a mile from my house.  I mean, that’s where you take  things you find that are lost, right?

How stupid of me. The desk officer told me not only that I should have put it over the fence, but she accused me of stealing my neighbors’ cat.  Really. Would I be bringing something I stole to the police?  & I have over 60 neighbors on my street. I did not have time to ask around, nor a way to keep this cat.

The officer bumbled around, and then she finally wanted me to fill out some paperwork, so I put the cat on the counter to do so, & she said to me, “Ma’am, you can’t do that. Pick up the cat.”  So I walked out. I had to get to work.

I volunteer with a group that does court watch that specifically addresses violation of animal care laws  (www.DAWGsite.org) , and I was referred to a board member for Treehouse Cat Shelter. She told me I should talk to the commander, because, in her police district, they have a way to get lost pets down to CACC….but she, and the person who referred me, told me that—due to  under funding, it could take CACC up to 2 weeks to collect a pet in distress.  & this is why people who find lost pets try to sell them on Craigslist. As a result, if you lose your pet in Chicago, & someone finds it, if you don’t look on Craigslist, you are, apparently …sol…

This week, I tried to talk to the commander of the 24th—& no officer would allow me to  leave a message on his voice mail. An officer who told me he was his secretary took my message that the desk officer told me I had stolen a neighbor’s cat. So, maybe you can find out if he (the commander) got my message. This could be a serious problem.

But back to CACC—-this is extremely serious. Whether you are an animal lover or not, stray, lost, and abandoned pets are a public health issues—& this is why we have dog pounds. & with this economy—even more pets are abandoned, because more are bred by ‘backyard breeders’.  Since Jan 1, I have flagged ( for removal) over 100 litters of Pit Bull pups posted on Craigslist in the Chicagoland area.  That is over 500 puppies. No other breeds.  Occasionally, you see a posting for a litter of designer dogs, or Shepherds, but it seems that not only can the ‘backyard’ Pit Bull breeders  not be able to read, they are in violation of the CL posting rules—which are because of an unfunded federal mandate  prohibiting internet sales of pet animals.  The state is broke. There is no way local law enforcement could go after all the illegal activity  on Craigslist.

I guess the thinking is that  because people see Pit Bulls puppies selling for $$$—that they think they all get sold. They do not. Most get sold to renters, who can’t legally have them, or homeowners who find their insurance doesn’t allow the breed. No matter. They end up at CACC, which can’t keep up.  Mandatory spay/neuter will not stop this.   A state law that would allow  the visiting of  breeders  posting puppies for sale & taxing them $50 per pup &  or confiscating the litter  would end the problem in less than a year (ask any shelter manager)—but would have to be done on a state level.

Thus, I am asking you, when Mayor Emmanuel submits the budget, to cut another department &  earmark at least another $200,000 for CACC. So they can get a lost or abandoned pet in 24 hours, and  take care of surrendered pets in a more humane fashion.

2 sad pet stories

April 4, 2012

In the past week, one about  a dog, & one a cat.

The dog got scalded.  I don’t know the whole story, but I do know it made national news. I went to court as part of a community advocacy program, to  ‘bear witness’, and the gist is:  a college student, on a scholarship(studying criminal justice!  The ironies…) scalded the dog, the neighbor saw the dog, & that the  college student was not having the dog treated, and called the police.  Not sure how it all went down, but the kid lost his scholarship, and now is paying for a lawyer every time the case  is continued.  Every time? There have been 2 continuances so far.  There is no doubt he did this.  I believe what is at issue is whether the dog needed treatment, if treatment was given—-like if there  was actually a dog, because it was confiscated…..but what  complicated matters was….a do-gooder group  on Facebook decided to petition the judge. They went to a lot of trouble to do this, got his email address, & sent him a petition with over 6000 signatures to ask that the  defendant  receive the greatest possible sentence.  This offended the judge, and  since the whole thing is still in discovery (meaning they are gathering evidence…these things can take months…)  the judge  was being unduly influenced. Not an animal lover, anyways (doesn’t see the connection between violence against animals &  other violence), so this  sort of sabotaged things.  Not only that, the  do-gooders harassed the student’s mother in other ways.  Not well thought out.  Please—don’t sign petitions to judges.  It does not help.

The other involves a cat.  I let my dogs into the yard Sat night, & it has started raining,& my dogs went crazy over a young cat in the stair well. It had a pink collar with a bell on. Obviously, somebody’s pet.  My immediate thought was :  Somebody  just moved.  If they moved in, the cat is lost.  If they moved out, they abandoned a cat.  Why would I think this?  Experience.  People dump pets—especially cats, when they move out. & amazing the number of idiots who still let a cat out to roam, kill birds, spread parasites…& breed.  I  live in Rogers Park, a high density neighborhood in Chicago.

In the morning, the cat was on my back porch on the 2ned floor.  The only real way for the owners to find this cat is if it is brought to CHICAGO ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL—15 miles from where I live—a 30 mile round trip. & I had to go to work.   So, what did I do? What would you do?  The 24th district police station is just a mile from my house. I brought it there.

Big mistake. The desk officer immediately accused me of stealing a neighbor’s cat. Really. Now, if I wanted to steal a cat, why would I bring it to the police.?   She didn’t know what to do, & told me I should have brought it in in a box or called all my neighbors to see who lost a cat. Or left it in my yard. She really said this.  I have over 60 households on my block. I had to go to work.

Sad fact–the police are not required to take in lost or stolen property—at least not live animals in Chicago.  You call Animal Care & Control—& it might take up to 2 weeks for them to collect this  live animal. No joke.

& this is why they end up for sale or REHOMINGS  or REHOMING on CRAIGSLIST.

Really. People without cars don’t want a pet to be euthanized, & no other shelter in Chicago will take it except Anti-Cruelty—a private shelter—& they request a donation.

In any case, the desk  officer  wanted me to fill out paper work.  I had to go to work. I set the cat down on the counter to fill out the paperwork,  & the desk officer says to me, me, “Ma’am, you can’t do that. You have to hold the cat.”  I was incredulous…& just walked out.

I tried calling Animal Care & Control later in the day to see if the cat made it, but they tell you nothing—you have to go down there & look. What I bet happened is some officer took the cat home…  & that IS stealing…but I have no proof.

My advice to pet owners who love their pets—not only getting them microchipped—but ALWAYS HAVE A COLLAR WITH A NAME TAG.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO IS BROKE. We are down 500 cops. Money t=from the feds that used to pay for some of them went to Hoemland Secu=rity & the TSA—who have yet to catch a terrorist. Meanwhile the sports teams & elected officials who go to church have dibs on where the police are deployed.

Mayor Rahm just fired Cherie Travis, who was hear of Animal Care & Control, and appointed a long time staffer. The problem is not really who is at the head of the city pound—it is that they are under funded & understaffed. Yet we still have plenty of money for street festivals:  & the extra police to  maintain order at them, & sanitation workers to clean up after them. I believe that if the citizens knew what the options were:  bread & circuses, or  humane treatment of animals…which are also a health hazard if not  confined..we might get the alderman to really look at the city budget.  But I am an idealist dreamer….