A Dog Gone Shame – City Pound Leaves Pooch In Van For Five Nights
In the latest embarrassment for Mayor Emanuel’s animal welfare agency, city workers apparently forgot that a dog was inside a cage in a city vehicle for nearly a week with little or no food or water.
As the Chicago Wolves hockey team hit the ice against the Milwaukee Admirals at the Allstate Arena on the evening of April 18, dogs hit the lobby.
Chicago’s Animal Care and Control – the taxpayer-supported agency that runs the city’s dog pound and is overseen by the Emanuel administration – sponsored an adoption event inside the Rosemont stadium that allowed fans to interact with lost, stray or abandoned pooches and consider taking one home.
The event turned out a success, with 13 of the 14 dogs adopted by somebody that night – a Saturday – or the next day.
But things didn’t turn out too well for that last dog, which was accidentally left by itself in a cage in an RV-style city van for the next five days, apparently with little or no food and water and temperatures at times in the 30s or 40s, the Better Government Association has learned.
The young brown female dog, which is named "Missy" and believed to be part or all pit bull, was retrieved Thursday night when somebody at ACC realized the mistake. The dog, now back at the city pound at 27th and Western, is recovering, though it looks as if it lost weight.
Don Levin – the Chicago Wolves owner, an animal lover and a big benefactor of the ACC – said he’s heard about the incident and is livid.
"If it’s true, whoever did it should be fired," Levin told the BGA, which has investigated a number of problems with the ACC, including a 2014 incident in which an employee allegedly choked a dog to death while trying to get it under control. "It’s just stupid."
ACC spokesman Brad Powers confirmed the latest incident, and said it’s being investigated. He released the following written statement:
"As soon as we learned of this incident yesterday we immediately had our veterinarian give the dog a complete medical examination, which found no health issues. The medical staff will continue to monitor the dog. We take this seriously because it is completely unacceptable and not in keeping with the level of care we expect our employees to provide. We immediately initiated an investigation of this matter and referred it to the Inspector General. Depending on the outcome, disciplinary action is certainly possible. The Police are also investigating the incident. While preliminarily this appears to be an accident, nothing like this has ever happened before and we are committed to ensuring it never happens again."
It appears Missy was caged in the ACC van outside the arena because, unlike the other dogs, "she got a little antsy" or "overwhelmed" and ACC folks didn’t want a bad interaction with fans, sources told the BGA.
After the hockey game, the van was driven by an ACC employee to the city pound and parked, with the dog still inside, apparently forgotten, sources said. The next day another ACC employee moved the van, with the dog inside, to another city facility, a source said. That’s where the dog and vehicle sat until Thursday night, when someone figured things out.
"Five nights, six days with no food or water?" a source said. "This is ridiculous . . . shame on them."
The pound processes hundreds of dogs and cats in any given week, but there are logs that are supposed to keep track of them. How Missy slipped through the cracks isn’t clear. Also unclear is whether ACC employees will face discipline.
Revelations about Missy follow a BGA/WBBM-AM report nearly a year ago about "Chance," a young male mixed-breed dog that was accidentally euthanized by injection when a city employee neglected to put an appropriate "hold" on the animal.
Also last year it came to light that another dog was apparently choked to death by an ACC employee using a "catch pole," a pole with a noose-like rope at one end that’s often enlisted to get animals under control and prevent bites.
ACC has hosted adoption events at Wolves games since 2001, with more than 1,000 dogs taken into homes through those functions.
This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Robert Herguth, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 821-9030. The BGA’s Katie Drews contributed to this report.