Evanston’s Animal Control Board has been in place operating the City’s animal shelter for about five months now since the City severed ties with C.A.R.E., the Community Animal Rescue Effort. According to a report delivered to the City’s Human Services Committee on Oct. 6, the transition has been relatively smooth and operations have improved.
The City “has not euthanized a single dog since May 10,” said Alisa Kaplan, a board member and volunteer. She was a central figure in raising the alarm about C.A.R.E.’s euthanasia rate earlier this year. The shelter has been “busier than we’ve ever been in all our years as volunteers,” she said.
“The transition has been successful,” Ms. Kaplan said; “more successful than we hoped.”
The Board’s “priority has been getting animals out of the shelter and into safe, loving homes as quickly as possible,” said Ms. Kaplan. The median stay in the shelter is now 12 days for cats and 18 days for dogs, she said.
Meredith Reeves, a local veterinarian who serves as the board’s chair, said the board wanted to create a separate 501(c)(3) organization to engage in fundraising for the shelter. The new organization, to be called the Evanston Animal Shelter Foundation, could actively seek support, ask for money and contribute to the Shelter. Currently, all fundraising must go through the City’s not-for-profit structure, said Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward.
The Rules Committee voted unanimously to recommend the formation of the new Foundation. Collection boxes, designed by Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, will be distributed to local retailers. The Shelter has found such boxes to be very effective fundraising tools, said Dr. Reeves.
Ald. Tendam asked about a new operator to replace C.A.R.E. In the spring, when C.A.R.E. left, the City released a “request for qualifications” (RFQ) document seeking a new operator to coordinate volunteers and adoptions. The RFQ resulted in two responses, one from the Anti-Cruelty Society and one from S.A.F.E. Dr. Reeves called the organizations “very different” in policy and practice, and asked for more time to evaluate ongoing operations, numbers, outcomes, and volunteer services before issuing a formal request for proposal.
An request for proposals, “is not off the table, we just need a few months,” said Dr. Reeves.
“The status quo is stable,” said Ald. Grover. “It’s all headed in a good direction in a very deliberate way.”
Ald. Tendam, however, said that his concern was that volunteers would burn out after putting in so much time. The Animal Control Board, which expected to meet monthly or even quarterly, has been meeting weekly. The pace is not sustainable over the long term, said Ald. Tendam.
Dr. Reeves said she did not expect weekly meetings to continue indefinitely.
Commander James Pickett, the Evanston Police Department representative tasked with overseeing the Shelter, recognized the work of the Board and volunteers. “I want to publicly commend the board and core volunteers,” he said. They really do a lot of good work.”