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Tag: chicago

Lotsa bark, little bite: Chicago crackdown on unlicensed dogs fizzles out

chicagodogbeach

Was all that talk about a crackdown on unlicensed dogs in the Windy City just bluster?

Chicago’s much publicized threat to conduct sweeps at dogs parks and beaches, track down scofflaws and issue tickets carrying fines of up to $200 — all in effort to get more of the estimated 653,000 canines living there registered — never really got rolling.

City Clerk Susana Mendoza said Tuesday that, despite publicity, free rabies clinics, contests and other citywide events aimed at encouraging dog registrations, licenses  rose only from about 30,000 to 40,000 this year.

Mendoza , who testified this week at City Council budget hearings, said her office followed through on creating incentives for dog owners to get licenses, but the city’s Commission on Animal Care and Control ”dropped the ball” when it came to the enforcement side of the campaign.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that was likely  “either because it is inundated and understaffed or because Mayor Rahm Emanuel changed executive directors just when a ticket blitz was supposed to begin with stings at dog parks and beaches.”

For years, dog owners who failed to purchase dog licenses were all but ignored by the city.

That changed in 2005, when software was put in place allowing a county list of dogs who had received rabies shot to be compared to a much shorter list of licensed dogs in the city.

Warning letters were mailed to those whose names appeared on the county’s list, but not the city’s.

Those produced only a small surge in registrations. Two years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel endorsed the planned crackdown — with fines for violators — but that produced only another small surge, and the stiffer enforcement that was promised never took place.

Licenses are $5-a-year for spayed and neutered dogs, $50 for those that are not, and $2.50 for dog owners who are senior citizens. Fines for unregistered dogs run from $30 to $200. (You can learn more about registering your dog in Chicago here.)

Mendoza estimated Chicago’s dog population at more that 500,000 but others say it exceeds 653,000.

Despite the “tremendous job” her department did, Mendoza said, the crackdown “was really predicated on a strong enforcement effort, which we’re not responsible for . . . I have not seen a crackdown that I would feel comfortable with in terms of really getting people to license their dogs. I’m very disappointed in it.”

“I ain’t gonna let no dogs punk me”

wilkersonA Chicago man charged with beating and stabbing a neighbor’s dog to death told police he did it because the dog tore his $3.78 shirt.

Damien Wilkerson, 34,  was being held in lieu of $80,000 bail and faces felony animal cruelty charges, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Witnesses told police they saw Wilkerson beating the dog near his home Saturday while holding a knife. Police found the dog’s body in a trash can in nearby alley.

“Yeah I killed that … dog,” Wilkerson told police, according to court documents. “I don’t give a (expletive),” Wilkerson said to police. “The dog tore my shirt. This … cost $3.78.”

Wilkerson said he went after the dog after it bit and tore his shirt through a fence, according to court documents. He said he hopped the fence and began beating the dog with a milk crate, then “choked the dog out” when the animal went for his neck, according to officers.

Authorities say Wilkerson is a member of the Insane Vice Lords gang.

According to court documents, he told police, “I ain’t gonna let no dogs or no (expletive) punk me.”

Counseling students, one lick at a time


There’s a new counselor on the staff at Loyola University in Chicago, and he’s helping students cope with everything from homesickness to the stress of final exams.

He’s a 5-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Tivo, and he’s on duty every day at the university’s Wellness Center.

Seeing a need for a therapy dog, Loyola last year asked Tops Kennels in Grayslake to help find a candidate. The kennel suggested Tivo, who, after some additional training, became a certified therapy dog.

He’s on duty from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, and lives with the Rev. Justin Daffron, Loyola’s associate provost for academic services.

Already immensely popular with students, college officials expect Tivo to stay busy in the week ahead, the Chicago Tribune reports. Final exams start today at Loyola, and Tivo has a way of helpling students, at least for a moment, shed some of the stress that builds up.

“They’ll come in, pet him, he’ll wag his tail, lick their faces, if they want their faces licked,” said Joan Holden, associate director of the center. “If you’re a dog lover, being with a dog makes you feel better. He’ll show his tummy, wag his tail — all the things to make you feel good.”

But Tivo doesn’t just sit in an office all day, according to an article about him in Inside Loyola.

“We use Tivo with patients for calming, for outreach in the residence halls, and to be sent out with a human counselor in hopes that students can come and pet the dog as a way to connect with the Wellness Center outside the office,” says Diane Asaro, the center’s director. “It is our first time trying it, and he has already gotten such a positive and wonderful response.”

Tivo also serves as a surrogate pet to the many students who are missing the dogs they left behind, noted David deBoer, associate director and clinical psychologist at the Wellness Center.

“Tivo really serves as a comfort, pleasure, and joy for college students; a friendly reminder of the comforts of home,” he said.

Students can keep track of where “Talk With Tivo” sessions are being held through his Facebook page.

(Photo: Tivo gives some counseling to student Marc Rosenbaum; by Mark Beane / Loyola University Chicago)

Chicago’s oldest pet store goes humane


Chicago’s oldest pet store has decided to stop selling dogs purchased from breeders.

Sonja Raymond, whose family has been operating Collar & Leash since 1956, says the shop will deal only in adoptable dogs from shelters and rescues, according to CBS in Chicago

Raymond said she’d been considering the switch for five years – after noticing animals coming into the store with genetic defects and incurable illnesses, despite the assurances she received from her suppliers that the pups didn’t come from puppy mills.

“You know I had gone on the word of my distributors that I get my dogs from — that ‘Oh yeah these people are reputable, I’ve known them for years,” she said. “Within the past year I have found out they lied.”

Also pushing Collar & Leash to make the switch was the The Puppy Mill Project, a Chicago-based non-profit organization created to raise awareness about cruelty in puppy mills.

“We’d been in touch with the Puppy Mill Project Founder, Cari Meyers, for a long time, and realize it’s time we take this jump with them to help make a statement to put an end to puppy mills,” Raymond said.

“We will no longer buy and sell cats and dogs from mills and are proud to align ourselves with The Puppy Mill Project,” she said.

“It’s my biggest hope that as they become humane, other Chicago pet stores selling dogs and cats will follow in their footsteps, said Puppy Mill Project founder Meyers.

The store will hold a grand re-opening weekend Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7.

Expressway dog Ike is thriving a year later

A year ago he was a hapless stray, dodging traffic on Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway.

Ike, as he was dubbed after his rescue, is no longer living life in the fast lane, but instead enjoying all the comforts of a new home, the Chicago Tribune reports. He’s even had some face time with the governor, Pat Quinn.

“He’s very, very happy and very healthy,” said Steve Zorn, who owns Precious Pets Almost Home, which handled Ike’s adoption.

A year ago, those who viewed video of the black and brown pit bull dodging morning traffic — for two days in a row, as TV helicopters tracked him — wondered if he’d make it out alive.

A Broadview police officer finally snagged him when Ike exited the expressway. When no one claimed him, he was put up for adoption and now lives in the north suburbs, where his best friend is the family cat.

“They cuddle up and sleep together,” Zorn said.

Ike has his own Facebook page, which features this photo and more.

(Photo: Ike and the governor, by Steve Zorn, of Precious Pets Almost Home)

Ferry tales can come true — for my dog

Trying to make up for lost time, and not all that keen — no offense, Chicago — on driving through the Windy City, Ace and I strayed from John Steinbeck’s route again and got from Michigan to Wisconsin by ferry boat.

Had we driven, circumnavigating Lake Michigan, it would have been 275 miles, about about five hours and nearly a tank of gas. Instead, we rode in relative comfort on the two-and-a-half hour trip across Lake Michigan — he in the car, me in a cushy seat.

It came with a price though — $92 for the car and $85 for me. Ace rode free, as dogs do on the Lake Express.

By taking the high-speed ferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee, we bypassed Chicago, where Steinbeck boarded Charley at a kennel and spent a few days with his wife at the Ambassador Hotel.

I, having no spouse with whom to rendezvous, didn’t even consider replicating Steinbeck’s stay there. The Ambassador runs $139 to $309 a night, and allows only small pets.

The Lake Express seemed pretty dog friendly — although pets are not allowed in the ferry’s seating area, or on the deck. They are welcome in the passenger lounges in the terminals at both ends of the trip, and they are permitted to stay in the car during the crossing.

While Coast Guard regulations require all windows to be rolled up, that doesn’t seem to be too strictly enforced. In fact, a member of the ferry crew suggested I leave the window cracked, and, after meeting him through the window, was also kind enough to promise to check in on Ace from time to time.

The ferry has kennels on board, available for free on a first come, first served basis — but I figured Ace would feel safer and more comfortable in the car, as it has become his primary home over the last five months.

I, meanwhile, took a seat and worked on my laptop until the ferry got out of port. Once it did, the waters were a little rough — enough to keep me from working or reading. It was, however, just the right amount of slosh and sway to fall asleep to. So I did.

The ferry travels at about 35 miles per hour, making going on the top deck, at least on this day, a little too cold and windy to be enjoyed. It doesn’t have the romance of other ferries I’ve been on — at least I didn’t see it — and is more like a trip on Amtrak, only with no stops and side-to-side sway.

I’m told the ride can get quite hairy during bad weather; fortunately, though, we only had some “slight chop,” as the captain put it, and it got smoother once we were halfway across the lake.

Not too long after that, the crew member I’d met when boarding came and sat down across from me, asking questions about Ace and our trip. She reported that he was watching everything intently down in the cargo area, and admitted that she’d been sneaking over to pet him and give him treats.

There I’d been, snoring away for most of the trip, while Ace was working his magic a deck below — from the sounds of things flirting up a storm, all but conducting a shipboard romance. If I took a few tips from him (he has always had a way with the ladies), maybe I’d have someone to meet at the Ambassador Hotel, preferably someone who could afford it.

By the time the ferry docked in Milwaukee, we were back in the car and waiting to pull off. I was looking for the cigarette I was anxious to smoke once we cleared the boat. Ace was sticking his head out the window, desperately looking one way and then the other for his new crew member friend.

I didn’t bother telling him she was wearing a wedding ring.

When dogs fly: More deaths in cargo

The deaths of seven puppies flying in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet have added to the growing concerns about pets and air travel.

A shipper last week checked 14 puppies in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a flight to Chicago, according to SmartTravel.com. Despite the airline’s policy against carrying pets when outside temperatures are expected to exceed 85 degrees, the puppies were in the cargo hold as temperatures on the tarmac rose to 87 degrees by the time the delayed flight departed.

When the flight arrived in Chicago, the puppies were lethargic and in visible distress. They were taken to a vet’s office, but five died initially and two others died later, according to the Associated Press

The airline declined to identify the shipper, or the breed of the puppies. Animals traveling as cargo on American must be at least eight weeks old, and the airline doesn’t allow dogs or cats that have been sedated.

An airline spokesperson said cargo holds carrying animals are routinely kept between 50 and 70 degrees.

But experts — and statistics – say we shouldn’t count on that.

The deaths come a month after the U.S. Department of Transportation warned that short-snouted dogs such as pugs and bulldogs accounted for about half of the 122 dogs that died during U.S. flights in the last five years.

Add in the tales of dogs getting lost at airports and the best advice is to, whenever possible, avoid shipping a pet as air cargo. There are other alternatives — from using Pet Airways, where pets ride in crates in the cabin, to driving, as Ed Perkins of SmartTravel.com notes in a recent column.

The ASPCA recommends that owners avoid shipping pets in the cargo hold, and offers these tips for those who can’t.