Safe Humane Chicago - Rescue in Style

how one organization is creating a safe, humane Chicago.

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! And those who celebrated Father’s Day enjoyed it. I attended a wedding, hung in the burbs, and tried to remain as cool as possible. Anything above 74 degrees and I’m uncomfortable. Mostly out of fear of a sunburn. Anyways, the day I built all the dog beds was also a day I met with Safe Humane Chicago. An organization making a huge difference in the lives of Chicago’s most at-risk animals and at-risk people.

Safe Humane Chicago believes that community safety and the humane treatment of animals are closely related. Also, their overarching goal is “to create more safe and humane communities by inspiring positive relationships between people and animals.” In addition, they believe in education, advocacy, and second chances. To achieve this Safe Humane leads outreach programs all over Chicago to educate and connect individuals and at-risk youth with animals through four main programs: Lifetime Bonds, Youth Leaders, Collaborative Justice, Community Outreach, and Veterans Advancing the Lives of Rescue (VALOR). For this shoot, I worked with their Court Case Dogs group, a program within Collaborative Justice.

Before Court Case Dogs (CCD) was in existence, any animals seized during an arrest of an owner were kept in cages at Chicago Animal Care & Control. The animals were kept there until the owner’s case was over. They sat in kennels and cages for months and sometimes years. The dogs weren’t taken out for walks, playgroups, or socialized. Most of the time, once the owner’s case was settled, the dogs were euthanized. It was cruel and heartbreaking but it was the way the system worked. As Safe Humane would say, the dogs did the time, but not the crime. In 2010, CCD stepped in to change that. They were granted the ability to walk, train, and socialize the dogs while the owners were on trial. Thanks to the program, more than 1,000 dogs have been saved and placed into loving homes.


Safe Humane Chicago

Not only do they work directly with the dogs, but Safe Humane Chicago also sends representatives to the courts during trial. They advocate on behalf of the animal during the proceedings. The representatives make sure the animals have a voice in the courtroom. Often times they’re able to work with the court to have the dog relinquished to CCD’s care. They even update the public on ongoing court cases in case anyone wants to follow along with proceedings or get involved.

When CCD started, the average stay for a dog whose owner was on trial was 256 days. Almost eight years and more than 1,000 dogs later, the average stay is 44 days. Once they’re ready, the dogs are sent to partner rescue organizations, like Anti-Cruelty, One Tail at a Time, and more. Not only is this a huge win for the Safe Humane, but it’s also an incredible asset for Chicago Animal Care & Control. The quick turnover frees up space for strays and owner surrenders coming to their facility. It allows more time and care for all dogs that need it.

Rescue in Style

The dogs that end up as Court Case Dogs represent some of the toughest circumstances that animals face. Sometimes the dogs come from neglect or abuse, but they look beyond their past.  Many people see these dogs and see the terrible life that has brought them to this point. The staff and volunteers of Safe Humane see what is possible and the bright future ahead of them. It was refreshing because while some groups spotlight their terrible former life, Safe Humane washes the slate clean.

I am incredibly grateful for all the work Safe Humane does for the people, animals, and communities of Chicago. With more than 100 volunteers, it’s easy to see why people want to get involved. The impact Safe Humane has on our city extends beyond its animals. They are breaking the cycle and creating a more safe, humane Chicago.


Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey – Perhaps the best name I’ve come across in awhile, his name describes him perfectly. He’s a gentle boy who loves to walk and takes treats nicely. He miraculously survived after being in a car for two weeks without food or water. Hokey Pokey can be shy at first but he’s so incredibly kissable that once he warms up to you, there’s no stopping his love. For the rest of this boy’s story, click here.


Rooster – This goofy boy is all fun. He loves being off-leash and running around with a toy in his mouth. He’s got plenty of energy and lots of smiles to go around. He was brought into CCD when his owner was arrested and went to prison. He’s flat-footed, probably because he was crated too long, but it adds to his charm. For Rooster’s full story, click here.

Pablo - Safe Humane Chicago

Pablo – This toy-obsessed boy was in the middle of his training session when we met him. He’s a seal and absolutely adorable. I didn’t get to know him too well but he was a rockstar with his trainer. For more information about Pablo, click here.


These photos are from one of the rainest day’s we’ve ever photographed. The downpour added to the fun of it all. I’m wearing my Namaste in the Shade shirt which describes me too well. It’s actually very light and perfect for those chilly summer nights. I paired it with my newest shorts that I’ll be wearing all summer long and my favorite Inkkas. Shop the look below!

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All photos: Margaret Rajic


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2 thoughts on “how one organization is creating a safe, humane Chicago.”

  1. Jared Hocking

    I had not heard previously of Safe Humane Chicago or their court case dogs work. That’s so great they are working to protect and save the city’s most vulnerable dogs. Thank you for your work and bringing them to my attention!

    1. They’re doing incredible work! I have hardly scratched the surface of all the great things they do for both animals and people here in Chicago 🙂

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