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Fostering Love, Fostering Care, Fostering Help…

September 13, 2010 by Tails Magazine in Chicago with 0 Comments

Recently, WGN-TV produced an expose on Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC.) It was high on shock value, showing an organization allegedly riddled with neglect and incompetence, complete with damning images of animals looking sickly in overcrowded cages, filthy living quarters, and a particularly gruesome snapshot of a cat with a gaping wound where his left eye used to be. It wasn’t pretty. Click HERE to see that video.

But here’s the good news: Hundreds of people responded to the feature with protests and outrage; so much so that WGN produced a second segment on CACC a couple of nights later. This time, the episode was decidedly more balance. Click HERE to view that video.

Paul Fasseas, founder of PAWS, Chicago’s largest no-kill shelter went on camera defending CACC, explaining that it’s up to local shelters, rescues, and individuals to help and work with CACC to keep its population of unwanted and stray animals down, decrease euthanasia rates, and increase adoptions.

And she’s right.

Maybe you’re not in a position right now to adopt an animal from CACC. But you can still make a difference by fostering a cat or dog from CACC.

You can do just that through the Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control, a separate private non-profit whose mission is to help the animals at CACC. And here’s the best part: When you foster an animal in the FCACC program, you are literally guaranteeing that animal will never be returned to CACC.

The foster program launched a year ago. In that time, more than 360 animals were transferred out of CACC into one of the 51 participating licensed foster homes. That means 360 animals never went back to CACC.

“We’re pretty pleased with the numbers,” says Charlie Propsom, founder and board president of FCACC. “It’s certainly been a very effective way to help with decreasing the general population there.”

To qualify as a foster, you must fill out a detailed questionnaire and your home must undergo inspection by FCACC members. From there, FCACC makes an application to the State of Illinois to register you as an official foster care guardian. And then it’s only a matter of time before you welcome home a CACC dog or cat.

“We work hard to match the right animals with the right people,” says Propsom. “For instance, we’re not going to ask a retired senior citizen to care for an energetic Pit Bull puppy.”

The amount of time you spend with foster varies with each animal. As an example, if you take in four-week old kittens, you may have them for six weeks until they’re old enough to be spayed or neutered. An older dog may spend a few months with you until the right home is found.

If you take in animals that need medication or veterinary care, FCACC takes care of all the medical expenses.

“We of course let people know before they take an animal into their home if there are medical issues,” explains Propsom. “And if, for instance, someone takes in some kittens that need to be bottle-fed, we take the time to show how it’s done.”

Many members of FCACC have taken part in the program themselves — on a couple of different occasions, animals have come into CACC only to leave with FCACC members an hour later.

During one of the monthly FCACC meetings, member Aimee Fagan walked in to CACC (where the meetings are held), saw a litter of kittens and said, “I’ll take them!” CACC Executive Director Cherie Travis filled out all the paper work and it was a done deal. During another meeting, Propsom overheard a woman tell a CACC administrator, “I found this in my garbage.” She was referring to a skinny Siamese kitten. An hour later, that kitten became Propsom’s foster. Later on, that same kitten would become Propsom’s foster failure — her name is Mazel and she is living the good life with Propsom and her other animals.

To learn more about the FCACC foster program, visit FCACC.org.

And here’s another way you can help the animals of CACC: Enjoy a night out to benefit FCACC by attending its annual Big Night fundraiser on Sept. 23.

-Amy Abern

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