Animal rescue organization plans shelter in Skokie after leaving Evanston

Nora Shelly, City Editor

Community Animal Rescue Effort, an animal rescue organization that used to operate Evanston Animal Shelter, is planning to start a shelter in Skokie.

CARE operated Evanston Animal Shelter starting in 1987, the city asked them to vacate the space in April 2014 amid controversy over canine euthanasia rates.

Karey Uhler, a volunteer with the group and member of the board, said they were excited about the move, as they currently have been operating under a foster home system, in which animals are hosted at homes of volunteers before they are adopted.

“We always wanted a permanent space to be able to help more animals,” Uhler told The Daily. “This space will be able to help us rescue more animals.”

Uhler said the group was “in love” with the building, and Skokie’s centralized location in the North Shore suburbs was ideal. The group also hopes to be able to provide dog training out of their new shelter.

“Our goal is to always help the community they are in,” Uhler said.

In 2014, community members and the City Council became concerned with the group’s euthanasia rate among the dogs they took in. At the time, an animal shelter volunteer who had been keeping records reported the rate was between 45 to 50 percent, a number which was disputed by CARE officials.

When staff from the city and CARE could not compromise on a plan to move forward, City Council voted to remove the group from the municipally-owned shelter. A new group, Saving Animals for Evanston, has been running the animal shelter since 2015.

Uhler said the group doesn’t want to dwell on the past. She said CARE’s current live release rate is over 97 percent.

“It’s really hard being a volunteer organization, we all love animals,” Uhler said. “The numbers don’t always tell the full story.”

CARE will operate in Skokie as a private facility, Uhler said.

In an email, Uhler wrote “while working within the Evanston system there were standard operating procedures, rules and regulations that needed to be followed. CARE will be operating under an entirely different model in Skokie.”

CARE is a no-kill organization, meaning that they do not euthanize animals due to limited time or space, Uhler said.

The Skokie Village Board of Trustees voted to approve the group’s move into a building earlier this month. The group still has to go through the permitting process, said Peter Peyer, Skokie’s director of community development

The group’s past issues in Evanston were not a concern to the village, Peyer said.

At a Skokie Village Board Meeting, CARE president Linda Gelb said the group planned to keep 20 dogs and 30 cats in the shelter at a time.

Skokie does not currently have an animal shelter, said planning supervisor Steve Marciani.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st), who helped bring the past issues with CARE to light, said she was supportive of CARE’s move and happy with how the Evanston Animal Shelter is now operating.

“I wish them every good luck,” she said. “This move will be a good thing for CARE.”

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