I’m so delighted to announce this new series… welcome to CACC Adoption Tails. These weekly posts will focus on sharing adoption stories of people who adopted from our local municipal shelter, Chicago Animal Care & Control.
The reason I wanted to start this series is that I think some people are afraid to visit CACC. I know I was. Memories of the “city pound” from those Sarah McLaughlin commercials haunted me. Thankfully, shelters have come a long way since then. We still have a ways to go, but hopefully, this series will encourage you to consider visiting us at CACC or becoming a volunteer!
First up, we have my good friend and co-founder of Rescue Chicago, Tara Majeed and her dog, Frank. I love Frank so hearing his story made me appreciate his journey even more. Without further ado… here’s Frank’s CACC Adoption Tail.
Three-year-old pit bull mix
When did you adopt your pet from CACC?
November 5, 2017
What were your thoughts about CACC before you visited?
I really hadn’t heard anything other than what I saw on their own social media. I knew that it is a city agency so my expectations for the overall experience were pretty low – but that wasn’t really the point for us.
What made you decide to visit our city shelter vs getting an animal elsewhere?
I had been following CACC on Instagram for a while and understood that adoptable animals were losing their lives, so we knew by adopting from CACC directly we’d be having a positive direct impact on that.
What was your initial impression of CACC when you first walked in?
It was what I expected, lots of dogs, mostly pit bull type dogs, but generally pleasant and clean.
What made you choose your pet?
Frank (then named Carmello) was very fearful in his kennel and even more so once we took him out – he kept pancaking to the floor and army crawled through the grass once we got outside. It was obvious that he would need a patient home to help him feel safe, and we also felt that our confident, older male could help him with that too.
How were you treated? How was “customer service”?
It was just ok, but our expectations were low and we understood going in that CACC was underfunded, understaffed and that it probably wasn’t going to be a five-star experience. That really wasn’t the point or what mattered to us.
How was the actual adoption process? Was there anything you would change?
Unfortunately, the volunteer we worked with was pretty lackadaisical and really didn’t offer much support. She took dogs out to the yard for us but then just sat down once outside and didn’t really speak with us. We met two dogs, the second being Frank. The first dog was jumpy/mouthy and she didn’t help us manage him at all. Our other dog came up in conversation but she did not suggest we introduce the dogs, or offer any advice on integrating them, etc.
The staff Supervisor we worked with to finalize our adoption two days later after Frank had been vetted was very friendly but we still didn’t receive any adoption counseling – we just went through medical records and off we went. Thankfully we did our own research and were able to successfully integrate Frank into our home with our other dog, but I definitely wish we’d had more counseling and support.
Now that I’m a volunteer myself, it’s even harder for me to understand why this particular volunteer didn’t care more. Helping dogs get into good homes – and providing counseling – is a big part of why I’m there in the first place. The good news is, the vast majority of our volunteers have the same mentality as I do so the odds of someone else having an experience like ours are pretty low.
How was post-adoption? Was there anything you would change?
Our first six months with Frank were EXTREMELY hard. I cried pretty much every day and constantly felt like I was failing him. His fears were very difficult to isolate and manage and he also turned out to be extremely reactive to strange dogs (though was best friends with our other dog from the first moment). I really had no idea where to turn for help/resources which made me feel even more helpless and depressed. Thankfully I was eventually able to find great resources and Frank has come a long way!
What do you want people to know about open admission (“kill”) shelters?
That by “supporting” them you’re actually saving lives. Adopting a pet from an open admission shelter doesn’t promote the killing of animals, it SAVES them.
What is your favorite thing about Frank?
Frank has taught me so much about patience, empathy, and forgiveness. With all of those things, he’s become a sweet, loving dogs that I can’t imagine him not being a part of our family.
I also want to take a moment to expand on Tara’s point about the adoption counseling and the volunteer. Volunteers are the ones who help potential adopters meet animals. I have helped numerous adopters and I truly believe the process has become so much better since Tara adopted. There are more volunteers and we have started to come up with better ways of speaking with adopters.
Another note, Tara is also incredibly humble. Since Frank’s adoption, she’s become a volunteer and was the driving force behind Rescue Chicago. Tara is also the reason I’ve become a volunteer at CACC. She inspired me to become more involved at our city shelter. So, I guess we can all thank Frank for that too!
This weekend, February 8 and 9, we are hosting an Oscars red carpet event! Adoption fees are waived for animals six months and older. We are always looking for additional help. You can sign up to volunteer on either Saturday or Sunday (or both!) and don’t need to be an official volunteer to help. Hope to see you there!