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Aldermen want to make Chicago animal shelters ‘no-kill’ zones

Chicago would become a “no-kill” city where animals brought to shelters are euthanized only if they are terminally ill, if two aldermen get their way. | Sun-Times file photo

Chicago would become a “no-kill” city where animals brought to shelters are euthanized only if they are terminally ill, if two aldermen get their way.

Aldermen Edward Burke (14th) and Ray Lopez (15th) have climbed aboard a no-kill bandwagon being driven by Advocates for Chicagoland Animals.

The aldermen introduced a resolution Wednesday at the City Council meeting encouraging Chicago animal shelters to “adopt no-kill policies.”

The resolution also calls for the Council’s Health Committee to hold hearings on the feasibility of converting the city’s David R. Lee Animal Care Shelter, 2741 S. Western, to a no-kill facility.

According to animal rights advocates, the city pound killed more than 10,000 animals over the past two years at a cost of $1.1 million.

A no-kill shelter would make putting dogs and cats to sleep a last resort. Dogs and cats would never be put down because a shelter is running out of room.

Advocates insist that no-kill policies are both humane and financially responsible, particularly when done in conjunction with programs that bolster the number of pet adoptions.

Burke and Lopez couldn’t agree more.

“There’s a movement afoot here in the metropolitan Chicago area to imitate the policy that PAWS has implemented. That is, to have no-kill shelters. Many pet lovers are outraged at the number of pets that are euthanized each year in Chicago. At the very minimum, we should shed some light on this and find out whether or not we should have a no-kill policy,” Burke said.

Pressed on the cost of keeping animals alive, Burke said, “There has to be a greater awareness of the adoption opportunities that exist for these pets.”

Lopez said it’s high time the City Council “change the climate on how we deal with animals” in Chicago.

“Right now, Animal Care and Control euthanizes over half of their pit bulls. We are making progress with cats. But we need to start pursuing an agenda that is more animal friendly in this city where, if they’re healthy, we keep them alive,” Lopez said.

Lopez brushed aside the possible cost of keeping animals alive at a time when homeowners are bracing for property tax bills reflecting the $588 million increase the Council approved last fall for police and fire pensions and school construction.

“We have a social obligation. And as a city, there’s always going to be a cost with something,” he said.

“We spend about one-third of what most major cities spend on Animal Care and Control. It’s a social issue. We have a lot of people who are dog-friendly, cat-friendly. And if we’re truly serious about protecting our pets and giving them the best opportunity, we need to put our money where our mouth is.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he hasn’t read the resolution but is inclined to support the no-kill philosophy.

“I have a long record . . . and we’ve done some things . . . as it relates to protection of animals. I take that issue very seriously,” he said.

“I want to look at the details of this resolution. But anything that gets us closer to a more humane effort as it relates to dogs particularly — that’s going to be something that’s dear to my heart.”