Chicago’s Animal Care and Control shelter would be expanded under a plan by mayoral challenger Ja’Mal Green to double its budget and turn it into a no-kill facility. | Sun-Times file photo
Mayoral challenger Ja’Mal Green on Monday proposed doubling the $6.4 million-a-year budget of the Commission on Animal Care and Control to enlarge the city pound and finally make Chicago a “no-kill” city where animals are euthanized only if terminally ill.
To bankroll the expansion, Green proposed incentives for the widely ignored dog license and following the lead of Zurich and other European cities by creating a $10 “behavioral test” for dogs before licenses are issued.
To reduce what he called the city’s “alarming” rate of killing animals, Green also proposed a “pets for vets” program to turn dogs held in the city pound into service and emotional support animals for veterans and disabled Chicagoans.
“My dog was mauled by four pit bulls last year. They were dog fighting in the neighborhood and, next thing you know, they jumped over my grandmother’s fence and mauled my dog to death,” Green said.
“We need to find new creative ways to make sure these dogs are registered and not just running loose and attacking people or other animals, which is where that behavioral test would come in. We have an outrageous number of dog bites. … The test will … make sure that the dog is behaving properly. The money would go back to the pound for these programs that I’m talking about.”
In 2012, then-City Clerk Susana Mendoza’s carrot-and-stick appeal to Chicago owners of unlicensed dogs more than doubled registration.
Mendoza succeeded where her predecessors failed by offering free rabies vaccines at citywide events and by holding an online dog registration contest with prizes donated by local businesses.
But those carrots were supposed to be followed by a stick: $30 to $200 tickets for dog owners who have thumbed their noses at the city’s mandatory dog license for decades without consequence.
Instead, the city’s Commission on Animal Care and Control dropped the ball either because it was inundated and understaffed or because Mayor Rahm Emanuel changed executive directors just when a ticket blitz was supposed to begin, including stings at dog parks and beaches.