Employee of Animal Care and Control: We Were NEVER This Full


(Understand this is only one person’s perspective, also consider this note is consistent with the many calls I’ve received from employees and volunteers. I don’t recall ever personally meeting this employee. The author did sign but I think the request for anonymity is reasonable):

I am an employee of Chicago ACC, as I am sure you are aware. Could you please post this on both here and on your fan site as a note? PLEASE do not use my name….Cherie finds out and it can get very nasty for me. She can be a bit vindictive….

Good evening everyone.

I want to start by saying that I have been an employee of the City of Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control for the past several years. I wanted to respond to some of the comments made, both by fans of Mr. Dale, as well as supporters of Ms. Travis, as well as citizens who are expressing outrage over the WGN News story from last night.

First, to say that the union employees there are lazy is shortsided and out of line. We work extremely hard for the citizens of Chicago. Of course, we have some co-workers that probably should of chosen a different career, but you will see that in pretty much every workplace. We all have co-workers that we would want to see go elsewhere.

The fact is that ACC is severely shortstaffed, and has our budget cut each year since I first started there several years ago. We had to lay off MUCH needed kennel and veterinary staff. We are operating at 30% strength in our field and investigative operations (which is why we have to respond to ONLY calls of an immediate public safety concern..stray dogs are not considered priority). We operate at the best of times only 3 vehicles on the night shift. We only have about 18 animal care aides, so those are spread pretty thin. Our alderman and mayor do not consider ACC to be a priority, so funds are sent elsewhere. The mayor has even equated us to garbage men. That is his mindset when he thinks about ACC.

We are also receiving more animals this year, then we did last year. We are simply overwhelmed.

However, what was said last night by “Peter” on the news story is completely accurate. We have not had this severe a problem with overcrowding in several years, since Nikki Prostous was there. The new director, Cherie Travis, came on board December of 2009, and things very quickly got out of hand. Let me give you folks some facts concerning her decisions:

1. She will not allow staff to euthanize a severally injured and/or sick animal without consulting her first, getting her OK, and then ONLY after attempting every medical treatment option, some of which are extremely expensive. These animals are then being treated in the same pavilions that house healthy animals. Very stupid thing to do, especially with cats, and the disease WILL spread!

2. She has called staff lazy, incompetent, stupid, not knowing their jobs. I have been in meetings where she screams these things at her subordinates. How can you expect staff to work for you when you fail to respect them? In one case, she went to the home of an employee who was sick, entered his house without permission, and proceeded to scream obscenities at him while he laid sick in his bed. The employee is currently suing the city over this, and it is under “investigation”. She treats her staff like trash…causing quite a few to either go on medical leave due to the stress, or quit outright. She then brings her friends in, as she was overheard saying “My friends need jobs too.”

3. She has not allowed staff to euthanize severally aggressive dogs, some of which were involved in serious bites to little kids. She wants those dogs assessed and then sent to rescue. This is not the mission of an animal control agency. Our goal is to PROTECT THE PUBLIC from vicious and dangerous animals, NOT to put them back on the street.

4. She has been witnessed pulling owners that come to complain they got a ticket, to the side, and then telling them how to get out of the ticket at their court hearing.

So what happens, is that the facility fills OVER capacity, as Ms. Travis will not allow staff to euthanize the aggressive and/or sick animals.

I also want to give a couple more facts…

1. Despite what people want to believe, our euthanasia numbers BEFORE Travis came were actually going down, even with the increase in animals.

2. We were NEVER this full until she came in.

Rescues were coming in force daily to get our animals. Now, we might get three or four a week, and they will only take the small breed, easily adoptable animals. Sorry, this is a fact!

I could go on and on about Ms. Travis. None of this is personal in nature, they are facts. She does not need to be the director of a major cities animal control program. She would be better suited to running her PACT Humane Society, and being an advocate for the animals, as I do believe that she has an great energy for that.

This is a governmental animal control agency, folks. What does that mean? Well, I think people want ACC to do the same functions as a humane society does. The two are completely different in what they do. I want to clarify to everyone what an AC agency is supposed to do.

It is not just being all about the animals, folks. Well, it is to some extent, but the real mission of an AC department is to remove stray, vicious, unwanted animals from the public streets, so they are not breeding and overpopulating, which causes risks to the public, both in disease and animal bites. We have taken on the new mission of investigation and prosecution of cruelty and dogfighting, as most AC departments are now doing after demands from the public for us to do it. We are very good at both missions, and I am proud of my co-workers for getting these missions accomplished, even being shorthanded as they are!