The transition from C.A.R.E. to the Evanston Police Department at the Evanston Animal Shelter continues as volunteers are lining up to help, said Commander James Pickett of the Police Department. At the same time, the City Council voted to authorize City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz to negotiate with C.A.R.E., the all-volunteer Community Animal Rescue Effort, as to the fate of C.A.R.E.’s “building fund.”
The transition will conclude a tumultuous end to a relationship that lasted more than 20 years. C.A.R.E. operated the animal shelter, caring for animals and facilitating adoptions of animals by the public, since 1987. Recent controversy over C.A.R.E.’s adoption policies and the shelter’s euthanasia rate for dogs led to a public outcry that ultimately resulted in the decision by the City Council to sever ties with C.A.R.E. and search for a new organization to operate the Shelter.
In the interim, the City will turn over operations to the Police Department, said Cmdr. Pickett. The City’s animal warden, Linda Teckler, will continue to work closely with the shelter as well.
Cmdr. Pickett said on April 28, “Seventy-two citizens contacted me, looking to volunteer or continue to volunteer at the animal shelter.” Individuals who previously volunteered for C.A.R.E. are welcome to continue to work at the shelter, he and others have said, when C.A.R.E. formally leaves on May 9. Northwestern frats and sororities have pledged to help, bringing the total number of volunteers over 130, he said.
The City will clear some storage space to allow for a larger space for animal-behavior testing. Behavior testing and the consequences poor testing results were at the heart of the C.A.R.E. debate because animals deemed “unadoptable” by such testing were generally euthanized.
Cmdr. Pickett will continue to oversee shelter operations until a new not-for-profit organization can be found to take the place of C.A.R.E. The City has issued a request for qualifications and is currently reviewing responses.
At the same meeting the City’s Corporation Counsel, Grant Farrar, issued a supplemental legal opinion as to the fate of donations made to C.A.R.E. It has been reported that C.A.R.E. has about $1.3 million in the bank and that a substantial amount of those funds were earmarked for a new or improved Evanston animal shelter. A number of citizens have publicly called for the return of all or a portion of the money that was donated specifically for upgrades to Evanston’s shelter.
Mr. Farrar’s opinion concluded that, while private citizens may consult the Illinois Attorney General regarding possible violations of the Charitable Solicitations Act, the City “can’t get in the middle of that.” The City’s law department is “ethically precluded from taking a position on this.”
“What I would like is for the City Manager to sit down with C.A.R.E. [for a] simple discussion” about the building fund, said Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward. The parties should be able to negotiate a equitable disposition of the money earmarked for a upgraded shelter in Evanston, he said.
On a suggestion by Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, that “perhaps we could politely ask for the building fund back,” Council voted unanimously to do exactly that. The City Manager will report back to Council on May 12.