Chicago Animal Control Hoping to Expedite Stray Adoptions

Chicago Animal Control Hoping to Expedite Stray Adoptions

In a city as large as Chicago, unclaimed and unidentifiable stray animals are a major concern.

According to the city's Animal Care and Control agency, the city impounds about 12,000 animals each year without indication of ownership like a microchip or name, rabies or city license tags. In 2013, less than 1 percent of the 5,000 cats and only 15 percent of the over 5,000 dogs taken in by the CACC were claimed by their owner. 

Expediting stray adoption process

So, what happens to the rest? The CACC runs several shelters throughout the city that at any given time are housing hundreds of strays. Unidentifiable animals are held for five days and then either are available for adoption by new owners through the agency or taken in by local shelters and rescue agencies.

In an effort to help increase numbers of animals more quickly finding forever homes, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed reducing the adoption waiting period to just three days.

“Families, individuals or rescue groups that want to adopt strays are currently forced to wait for five full days before the stray can be removed from shelters,” Emanuel says. “Making residents wait to take home animals that we want to place in loving homes doesn’t make sense, and this ordinance will help stray animals find their forever homes faster.”

RELATED: What to do if You Find a Stray Dog, Cat or Other Animal

The proposal was made in consultation with local animal welfare advocates, rescue groups, and the Chicago Area Shelter Alliance, which includes organizations like The Anti-Cruelty Society, The Animal Welfare League, PAWS Chicago and the CACC.

“Stray animals with no microchip or tags currently have an extremely low chance of being claimed by an owner, despite our best efforts,” says Sandra Alfred, executive director of CACC. “We have listened to the feedback of our community partners and agree that making these animals available for adoption and transfer to rescue agencies more quickly increases the chances that these animals will find a new home.”

Proposal may serve as an incentive

The new ordinance will not affect identifiable pets brought to a CACC shelter. Those pets will still be sheltered for at least seven days while CACC workers and volunteers attempt to find their owners. Alfred said she hopes the new ordinance will prompt more pet owners to make their animals identifiable.

“This ordinance will not only help facilitate our lifesaving programs, but also incentivize animal owners to obtain microchips, city dog licenses, and county rabies tags for their pets, guaranteeing an even longer lost animal hold of seven days should their pet get out,” Alfred says.

RELATED: 5 Things to Look for at an Animal Rescue for Purrfect Pet Adoption


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