Reality of Rescue: Crowd-Sourcing Compassion


Truth: Chicago’s Animal Care and Control euthanizes an average of ten animals per day.

Misconception: The “city pound” is a scary place where the staff doesn’t care if they have to put down multiple animals each day.

Reality: The job of the city’s shelter is to be there, 24/7, as a “safe haven” for animals found wandering the streets alone. But they can only properly care for a finite number of animals. Sadly, the influx of stray and relinquished pets is greater than the number happily walking out with a new family or being transferred to other rescue organizations. This means the staff has some tough, tragic choices to make each day. Happy, trusting, well-behaved animals die every day, and they have done nothing wrong. It is the humans who have failed them.

Hope: Organizations like One Tail at a Time (OTAT) are connecting with caring citizens, helping them understand that this is a “Chicago community” issue, not a government issue. It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and demand change—increased funding for CACC, more staff, a bigger space, etc.––but this is our problem to fix; we owe it to the animals who cannot advocate for themselves.


“Over the years it became apparent that the way to change things is to get our community invested; to help people see that the dogs dying in our tax-funded shelter are our dogs. They are not the government’s dogs, and they don’t belong to “no one.” They are ours, and it is our responsibility to care for them.

“Our goal when we started OTAT was to create an organization funded and run by the community. We have a small staff and board of directors, but the heart, soul, and blood of OTAT is our solid network of foster homes, volunteers, and donors.

“I call it ‘crowd-sourcing compassion’ because we are fostering a group of passionate people, all joining forces in different ways, coming together to make something big happen. We don’t have the resources as individuals, but as a collective, we not only gain the overwhelming sense of compassion, but we also have the ability to make things happen.

“We know Chicago loves dogs. We know Chicago doesn’t want to pay our government to kill dogs. That’s why we’re here––to provide the funnel and the infrastructure to save as many lives as possible by pulling dogs from CACC. We are making a difference, but it’s not enough. We hope more people will join us on this incredible journey, and work with us to become a part of the solution.”

– Heather Owen, executive director of OTAT

Giving: OTAT, in conjunction with local groups ALIVE Rescue and New Leash on Life, make up the Chicago Community Pet Coalition. With the help of some solid sponsors and dedicated volunteers, they join forces twice a year to put on Community Pet Days––providing free vaccines, microchips, spay/neuter surgeries, and pet care clinics in underserved areas. The 7th Community Pet Day was held on June 27 in Garfield Park, where more than 120 dogs showed up with their people to receive services.

“There are alternatives to judging people that need help in caring for their dogs, and the alternative we have chosen is to help them. The love we have for our pets crosses every racial, cultural, economic line there is. We’ve seen tremendous success, but we need resources and community backing to expand our efforts.” – Heather Owen

Milestone: One Tail at a Time’s Adoption Center opened on August 1 with two fundraisers and huge celebrations to mark the significant event.

Lend a helping paw and be part of the community:

Donate: OneTail.org

Supply donations: Wishlist (They especially need toys, towels, and treats.)

Foster: OneTail.org/foster

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