City to consider two possible replacements for CARE


Paige Leskin/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston Police Cmdr. James Pickett updates aldermen on the city’s efforts to take over operations at the Evanston Animal Shelter. Pickett is one of several city officials overseeing the shelter’s transition to city control.

Paige Leskin, Assistant City Editor

City Council voted Monday night to discuss the two volunteer animal care organizations who had expressed interest in replacing Community Animal Rescue Effort as a partner of the Evanston Animal Shelter.

Chicago-based non-profit Anti-Cruelty Society and Saving Animals for Evanston, which is made up of former CARE volunteers who helped rescue animals that were in line to be euthanized, responded to the city’s request for qualifications in managing the animal shelter.

Council voted at its April 8 meeting to terminate the city’s relationship with CARE. The decision followed a period of negotiations between CARE and Evanston, in which aldermen put forward new revised policies that CARE would have to follow in order to stay in Evanston. When those failed, City Council ordered the organization halt its work at the shelter and leave the premises by May 9.

Evanston Police Cmdr. James Pickett, who is overseeing the shelter’s operations during the transition, updated aldermen on CARE’s movement and volunteer coordination at the shelter.

“We still have a long way to go,” Pickett said. “We have plenty of volunteers. We’ll be able to move forward with business as usual after May 9.”

He said the responsibilities of CARE were very close to finished — the organization only had three more adoptions to finalize.

After hearing concerns from residents about funds collected by CARE for the shelter, the council directed city manager Wally Bobkiewicz to discuss the issue with the organization.

The money in question — more than $500,000 raised by CARE for the purpose of renovating the shelter — is currently still under CARE’s control, although the city has terminated its relationship with the organization.

“This money was given in the name of, directed to and for the development of, the Evanston Animal Center, and that’s the manner it was intended,” Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) said. “I think we owe it to residents to pursue that.”

CARE volunteer Karen Straus said during citizen comment that she was worried money Evanston residents donated to the Evanston Animal Shelter would remain under CARE’s control and would not be used to improve the shelter. She specifically said she was concerned money collected in order to renovate the shelter would not be used for that purpose.

“I worked for 14 years to try to make that dream a reality,” Straus said. “I do not want to see that dream — that million dollars — walk out of the city of Evanston.”

CARE first came under scrutiny in 2012 for its practices in running the Evanston Animal Shelter. Volunteers voiced concern about CARE’s process of evaluating animal behavior, as well as the canine euthanasia rate, which was at about 45 percent at the time.

At its Monday meeting, City Council also approved the creation of an Evanston Board of Animal Control, to which Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl will appoint seven members. Once staffed, the board will work closely with aldermen in reviewing the letters from the interested groups and developing requests for proposals for them in the next several weeks, Bobkiewicz said.

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