PAWS Chicago Launches Crisis Fund To Reduce Animal Euthanasia At City Pound

PAWS Chicago Launches Crisis Fund To Reduce Animal Euthanasia At City Pound

CHICAGO — PAWS Chicago is ramping up philanthropy efforts to ease overcrowding at the city’s animal pound and reduce how many dogs and cats are euthanized.

PAWS, a no-kill shelter that opened in 1997, launched a Chicago Animal Crisis Fund to rescue homeless animals at risk of being euthanized at Chicago Animal Care and Control, group leaders said in a news release Tuesday.

The push for this new source of funding comes as the city’s pound recorded a 22.7 percent increase in the number of animals euthanized in 2023. PAWS takes in hundreds of animals from Chicago Animal Care and Control each year.

“It marked the first time 2,500 pets had been euthanized at [Chicago Animal Care and Control] since 2016, and a reversal of hard-win progress in the effort to make Chicago a No Kill city where all healthy and treatable animals are saved,” PAWS leaders said in a statement.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Animal Crisis Fund had about 440 supporters. The Ehlert Family Foundation will match each dollar donated up to $25,000, PAWS said.

Donations will go toward the medical treatment and care of cats and dogs brought to PAWS from the city’s pound, group leaders said.

A cat with a cone at PAWS Chicago Medical Center in Little Village on Feb. 6, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

Overcrowding in Chicago shelters is an ongoing issue, but it’s become worse in recent years.

In April 2020, Animal Control celebrated a first in the agency’s history: Every adoptable animal found a home. Shelters across the city and country saw a similar upward trend in people adopting animals following stay-at-home orders at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the city’s pound and other animal groups have since seen pre-pandemic levels of animals being surrendered and overcrowding at “catastrophic” levels.

The pound took in nearly 1,200 more cats and dogs in 2023 than it did the previous year, PAWS said. Many of these pets went to PAWS Chicago — 695 more than PAWS rescued in 2022.

PAWS leaders estimated if the group didn’t take in as many extra animals as it did, euthanasia at the city’s pound would have gone up by about 50 percent.

Three puppies huddle and cuddle at PAWS Chicago Medical Center, 3516 W. 26th St., in Little Village on Nov. 3, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

So far in 2024, intake is already high at the city’s pound.

Since January, the pace of animals coming into Animal Control went up by 22.8 percent compared to early 2023. In response, PAWS transferred 495 pets into its care.

“Normally the first quarter is the slowest intake period of the year, since the cold weather results in fewer births and fewer strays,” said Susanna Wickham, CEO of PAWS Chicago. “This year, there has been no reprieve, and we are calling on our animal-loving community to help, because the warm-weather litter season is almost upon us and will bring another wave of vulnerable pets.”

Contributions to the Chicago Animal Crisis Fund will also support ongoing partnerships between PAWS and the city’s pound by offering free and low-cost services such as spays, neuters, vaccinations and illness treatment.

PAWS also rescues from the city pound all puppies with parvovirus, an extremely contagious illness which can make puppies candidates for euthanasia.

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PAWS Chicago Launches Crisis Fund To Reduce Animal Euthanasia At City Pound

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