Evanston gives animal nonprofit one week to respond to provisions

Julian Gerez, Assistant City Editor

Evanston aldermen gave Community Animal Rescue Effort one week from Monday to respond to recommendations that will decide whether the city’s relationship with the local animal nonprofit will continue.

For the bulk of the meeting, aldermen discussed the best course of action to improve and expand animal care and control operations in the city. Aldermen decided that if CARE is to continue working with the city, it must accept the provisions put forward by city manager Wally Bobkiewicz. 

Ald. Jane Grover (7th) said the draft policy is “exactly” what she had envisioned.

“This is not about CARE,” Grover said. “It is first and foremost about operations at the shelter, whether the practices of the shelter are reflective of the community values.”

Grover stressed that many of the terms of the policy are non-negotiable. She said if CARE does not have an interest or capacity to operate under the terms the committee proposed, then the city would seek out a successor agency to operate the shelter.

Bobkiewicz said board members of CARE reviewed the new policies and responded in an email, saying “it is abundantly clear that the proposal is not consistent with the committee’s requests.”

Ald. Mark Tendham (6th) said the email might as well have gone into his spam folder. 

“I can’t support a direction where we are trying to make a connection with an organization and they can’t even give us the slightest hint of feedback,” Tendham said. “We are the committee, tell us what requests it doesn’t meet.”

Board members of CARE were present at the meeting but declined to elaborate on the email.

Provisions include the creation of an Evanston Animal Shelter Fund to receive donations specifically to support the operations of the shelter as well as the creation of a Board of Animal Care and Control.

The provisions will also require all volunteer animal organizations to release copies of their audited financial statements and names of staff and board members for increased transparency between these organizations and the city.

Finally, the proposal seeks to fill gaps in Evanston’s animal control policy, including behavior evaluations, testing methods for animals, rescue procedures, record keeping and procedures for dealing with feral cats.

Though residents had a limited time to comment at the meeting, all four people who talked during citizen comment spoke against CARE, citing costs, continued conflicts and differences in the city’s and the nonprofit’s goals.

Evanston resident Virginia Mann said the euthanasia rate is just the “tip of the iceberg” of the problems with the organization.

“It would be totally irresponsible for the city to move forward with its relationship with CARE,” Mann said. “There is a consensus that CARE has to go.”

Correction: A previous article misattributed a quote said by Ald. Mark Tendam (6th). The Daily regrets the error.

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