DuPage County has become a friendlier place for stray dogs and cats, thanks to DuPage County Animal Care and Control.
For the first time in its 80-plus year history, the department avoided euthanizing a single animal because of space restrictions in 2013 – a far cry from the more than 200 put down in 2008. Administrator and veterinarian Todd Faraone credited a decrease in the number of animals surrendered, partnerships with local rescue groups and shelters, and the Friends of DuPage County Animal Care and Control Foundation with the progress.
“The foundation has helped very significantly with our good fortune last year,” he said. “Hopefully it’s something that we will be able to continue.”
The department cares for just under 4,000 animals each year, including a mix of owner-surrendered and stray dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and more, said Foundation Coordinator Kristie Lecaros. It is the only immediate open admission center in the area, she said, meaning it takes in all animals without a wait list.
“We’d rather not see them either discarded out on the streets, which has happened, or just fall into bad hands,” she said.
While that means unclaimed and unwanted animals have a place to stay, if there are too many for department facilities, staff have to make a tough choice. Owner-surrendered cats are usually the main victims of overcrowding, as there are far more of them in the department’s cage spaces and the shelter is mandated by law to keep any stray for at least a week to ensure the owner doesn’t come looking for them.
“When we say they are euthanized for space, these are animals who are adoptable, social, happy and would make great pets, but just because we didn’t have a cage or foster home for them they had to be put down because there was nowhere else to go,” Lecaros said.
Since its incorporation in 2006, the foundation has worked to reduce euthanasia numbers with local partnerships and fundraisers to offer lowered adoption fees. The department is a self-supporting agency and receives no taxpayer dollars, so it has relied on the foundation to cover much of those costs.
That effort has had great success in recent years. From 2008 to 2010, euthanasia numbers hovered around 200, but dropped to 62 in 2011 and five in 2012 – “five too many,” Lecaros said – down to 2013’s zero.
“The only way we can keep it going is to continue with what we’ve been doing. There really aren’t a lot of other avenues for increasing adoptions, we pretty much have all those covered,” Faraone said. “But we’re always willing to listen to new other ideas from other shelters ... we’re trying to be as progressive as we can while balancing that against being animal control.”
By the numbers
Across its facilities and partners, DuPage County has about 85 dog cages and 110 cat cages. Dogs often get double cages due to size.
The average adoption fee for dogs and cats is $100, and the animals will have already been spayed, neutered, chipped and vaccinated. Animal Care and Control also has a number of events that offer reduced adoption fees, regardless of income.
More information on DuPage Animal Care and Control, including available animals, can be found at www.dupageco.org/animalcontrol. Information on the Friends Foundation, including upcoming fundraisers and past efforts, is available at www.dupageco.org/friendsofDCACC.