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In the Know – June/July 2018

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What’s going on in Chicagoland’s animal community

At Northwestern University, institution leaders are working with the local bird monitoring community and the American Bird Conservancy to come up with solutions that will prevent birds from colliding into glass walls and windows at university buildings. Up to one billion birds die every year in the U.S. due to these kinds of collisions, and the Chicago Bird Collision Monitor notes that they pick up about 5,000 injured or killed birds within just one square mile of downtown Chicago every year. Bird and design experts know there has to be a solution, which is why Northwestern is helping to set an example. “We’re taking an active, multi-tiered approach to bird collisions, looking at new construction, existing structures, and at the daily building-management level,” said Bonnie L. Humphrey, Director of Design in Northwestern’s Facilities Division. Expect to see more patterned glass windows on the face of both old and new buildings on Northwestern’s campus, and stay tuned for other innovative options for protecting our feathered friends.


Chicago cops who see animals trapped in cars during a hot or cold day may soon have the power to break windows and free them. While the state of Illinois already gives officers the power to smash a window and free an animal who is locked in a car during extreme weather (provided they can’t locate the caregiver or find another way in), the city has been slow to grant such rights, with officials stating they need a more clearly defined rule. That rule may be coming, thanks to local aldermen pushing to provide police with direct window-smashing authority. It’s an important step in recognizing the dangers of leaving pets in cars during hot or cold weather, and will hopefully both save more animals and deter caregivers from leaving their pets in the car in the first place.


Keeping animals out of Chicago Animal Care and Control is a major undertaking, but may become simpler thanks to a new proposed plan. Under the plan, Chicago’s animal control officers would be equipped with microchip wands in order to check for chips of animals found wandering. If a chip is found and the caregiver lives within three miles, the officers would have the authority to simply bring the animal back home, instead of to the city shelter, provided the animal is up to date on their rabies vaccine. The plan is awaiting City Council approval, but has already been approved by a smaller committee.


Changes are happening at Animal Welfare League of Chicago Ridge (AWL). After months of public outcry and investigations by both federal and state officials, Linda Estrada has been removed as director of the shelter. The controversy around AWL started with volunteer photos showing troubling conditions within the shelter, including rodents and feces in animal cages. Many called for Estrada’s resignation, though the shelter has not been found in violation of animal welfare standards by investigators. Taking over will be Diane Spryka, manager of AWL’s Chicago location, and activists are hoping it’s a step in the right direction toward rehabilitating the shelter and making it a better and safer place.

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