City officials criticize animal adoption nonprofit CARE during tense meeting


Ciara McCarthy/Daily Senior Staffer

Linda Scott speaks about the importance of rescue and foster organizations as an alternative to euthanasia. A Human Services subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss Community Animal Rescue Effort and its euthanasia policies, among other issues.

Ciara McCarthy, City Editor

Evanston officials criticized a local animal adoption nonprofit during a tense meeting Wednesday, accusing the organization of blatantly lying about its canine euthanasia rate.

Officials met Monday evening with representatives from Community Animal Rescue Effort, the Evanston Police Department and CARE volunteers critical of the nonprofit. Evanston’s Human Services Committee voted to create a subcommittee to address CARE during a heated meeting last week. CARE is a cat and dog adoption agency that operates out of the Evanston animal shelter, 2310 Oakton St. The committee was scheduled to determine the future of CARE’s affiliation with the shelter and consider an extension of CARE’s lease agreement with the city. However, community debate around the issue was so intense that Ald. Jane Grover (7th) moved to create a subcommittee to continue the discussion.

Wednesday’s smaller meeting was also strained and included several bitter back-and-forth exchanges between opposing parties. City officials outlined their main issues with CARE’s policies, and representatives from the organization often argued back in defense of their practices.

Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) criticized CARE’s published euthanasia rate, which he said was misleading. On its website, CARE claims 20 percent of its dogs are adopted and 16 percent are euthanized. When Tendam challenged CARE about the fates of the unaccounted for 64 percent, he was met with silence.

“As far as I’m concerned … this is outright lying, and you’ve convinced a lot of people that you’re correct. And you’ve managed to go public saying that we are mistaken,” Tendam said.

According to Tendam’s calculations, CARE’s actual canine euthanasia rate was 34 percent, and in previous years it was more than 45 percent.

CARE uses behavior evaluations to inform its decision on which dogs are put up for adoption. The Evanston animal warden, Linda Teckler, makes the final decision on which dogs are euthanized, a policy that changed in 2012.

Since 2012, Teckler has sent 20 dogs, which CARE had failed in their behavior evaluations, to rescue organizations.

“CARE fails them in their temperament, and when I spend time with them … I am not always seeing what they’re seeing,” Teckler said.

CARE board president Linda Gelb said the city needed to work on creating a relationship of trust between the two parties.

The organization also came under fire for the amount of money it has set aside to expand the animal shelter. CARE and Evanston have been discussing an animal shelter expansion for several years, but the plans have been stalled due to financial reasons.

CARE board member Gail Lovinger Goldblatt said the organization had earmarked $29,000 for the expansion of the shelter.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said it was unclear if the city would partner with CARE to expand the shelter.

“We don’t know,” Bobkiewicz said. “We need a partner that has sufficient resources.”

Editor’s note: The headline has been updated to clarify the story is about CARE, an Evanston nonprofit, and not the campus organization.

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