Who runs CACC and why won't Chicago Punish Irresponsible Pit Bull Owners?

What do a former cult in Kanab, Utah that became Best Friends Animal Society and a wealthy New York republican pit bull advocate that created Animal Farm Foundation have in common? They both obsessively promote pit bulls and they both might as well run Chicago Animal Care and Control.

Sixty two year-old Joe Finley was critically injured when two 70-pound pit bull terriers mauled him while he was jogging along Lake Michigan. The pit bull attack reportedly lasted about 45 minutes. The pit bulls bit Mr. Finley over his entire body causing deep tissue wounds, severe lacerations and massive blood loss. Doctors initially told Mr. Finley's brother that they gave him a 50% chance of surviving. Stanley Lee, the man who saved Finley's life, was alerted to the attack by Finley's bloodcurdling screams and repeated pleas, "Help me! Help me!"

For some of the 45 minute attack, the pit bulls continued mauling while being beaten with Mr. Lee's wooden bat. Lee said watching these two pit bulls gruesomely maul Joe Finley was the worst thing he'd seen in his life.
"They was fighting dogs and that's what they do," he said. "Normal dogs wouldn't do that. Stray dogs would never act like that. They knew what they wanted and their mission was to kill the man."
This comment from loathsome pit bull owner Laura P. of Chicago IL summarizes the problem with pit bulls, their owners and advocates:
"fighting for his life" OMG really? hysterical much? I love how every time a dog bites someone there is never any acknowledgement of the HUMAN's responsibility. Do we really expect DOGS to act RESPONSIBLY? The dogs had gotten out MULTIPLE TIMES. The dogs had BITTEN THE NEIGHBORS. WHY DID THESE OWNERS STILL HAVE THE DOGS? Fines, incarceration and the removal of the dogs from the home of the irresponsible OWNERS should have happened long ago and far away. And now ALL pit bull owners across CHICAGO shall pay the price and be punished because these owners couldn't handle their responsibility and the city failed to act, MULTIPLE times? Please. give me a break!!   - Laura P, Chicago IL, 04/1/2012 19:28
Loathsome Laura P. refuses to acknowledge the horror Joseph Finley was subjected to or to distinguish between a bite and a 45 minute long mauling. She's not alone in this, however. The editorial staff of the Chicago Sun-Times are displaying the same willful ignorance when in their "We love pit bulls more than people!" editorial position statement they bleat,
"In Denver, where pit bulls have been banned since 1989, city officials have yet to prove the ban has made people safer. Instead, Labradors now lead the pack of biters in Denver."
There it is again: refusal to acknowledge that the problem solved by pit bull bans is not dog bites, but severe maulings and killings. Sun-Times do some work, find out if the number of deaths and severe injuries delivered by dogs in Denver is lower per capita than in Chicago. Spoiler Alert: you will find exactly that.

Loathsome Laura P. does make a valid point, though. The owner was irresponsible and should face criminal charges for allowing his dogs to cause unimaginable pain and terror to Joseph Finley in an attack that lasted almost an hour and which will change his life. Before the owner of the dogs that attacked Joseph Finley was known, Cherie Travis, executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control seemed to agree.

When the irresponsible owner was still unknown, Travis said,
"The reality is we need to hold people responsible that if you get a dog, you are responsible for everything that happens.”
Coming from her, this is not the usual pit bull advocate platitude. Travis is in a position to actually hold the owner responsible or push other agencies to do so. However, when Jimmy Johnson came forward as the owner of the mauling pit bulls, for some crazy reason Travis completely changed her tune. She praised Johnson's character simply because he did what we expect everyone to do - come forward to be accountable for his choices, his property, his dogs.

“The owner and the owner’s family were extraordinary responsive,” said Travis.  “They were hoping that the dogs were not theirs. …The fact that they came forward says a lot of about their character.”

She and the Chicago police decided that Johnson's defense that he didn't know someone had left the gate open was so incredibly strong, they could not prosecute him for allowing his pit bulls to mutilate a man for 45 minutes. Johnson walked away with a pat on the back about his great character and a few tickets.

Neighbors of the attacking dogs say that those specific dogs were demonstrably aggressive and it was known that those dogs were able to escape over the back fence. The pit bull owner, whose character Cherie Travis praised, was probably lying, probably knew his dogs could escape the fence, must have known the dogs were aggressive, and negligently allowed them to maul Joseph Finley.

Travis didn't follow up with an investigation she said she would conduct if the owner were found. The police evidently didn't even bother to interview the neighbors. The message sent was loud and clear, you can cause a gruesome, life-altering mauling, and you will be give exactly the same tickets as the owner of a cocker spaniel that gets out and inflicts a single bite on a hand. And Chicagoans just have to suck it up and take their maulings like good boys and girls.

But not too worry, serious pit bull attacks are uncommon in Chicago, according Travis. Travis' claim is completely unsupportable. If, as the Sun-Times states, Chicago does not keep statistics of bites by breed, Travis has no clue how frequently pit bulls severely maul Chicagoans.

Although the Sun-Times asserts Travis is not doing an adequate job monitoring a pressing public safety problem - pit bull overpopulation and attacks, there is no reason why she can't do her job if she wants to or is compelled to because CACC certainly is able to generate those statistics if they are compliance with Illinois state law which states that after an animal bites " A veterinarian shall report the clinical condition of the animal immediately, with confirmation in writing to the Administrator or, if the Administrator is not a veterinarian, the Deputy Administrator within 24 hours after the animal is presented for examination, giving the owner's name, address, the date of confinement, the breed, description, age, and sex of the animal, and whether the animal has been spayed or neutered, on appropriate forms approved by the Department."

Why would Cherie Travis insist she must compel pit bull owners to be responsible when the owner was unknown, but as soon as the owner came forward, simply praise him? Why would the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Animal Care and Control act so contrary to the interests of the citizens of Chicago and refuse to press charges to demonstrate that Chicago dog owners must be responsible?

It is baffling, but here are some clues:

Travis may be less able to assess what constitutes irresponsibility or abuse to animals considering the problems she's had running CACC as a no kill shelter. As happens time and time again with No Kill proponents, instead of sheltering animals, people begin simply hoarding them. And overwhelmed and over-run with cats and dogs with injuries and illnesses, animals suffer. Notice in Marcella Raymond's WGN undercover, investigative report in the following link that Travis defers to Best Friends when asked to explain the No Kill philosophy of the program she is running. And watch to the end to see an uncredited cameo of Ledy VanKavage, Esq. Senior Legislative Attorney at Best Friends Animal Society affirm that Travis is doing a great job.

The influence of Best Friends No Kill advocacy is so strong that WLS felt compelled do a second, positive piece on CACC and Cherie Travis after being deluged with complaints about this piece.

By being insanely pro-pit bull and protective of any pit bull owner who isn't obviously abusing or fighting pit bulls, the CPD and CACC attract lots and lots of money from the two whales of pit bull rescue and advocacy: Best Friends Animal Society and Animal Farm Foundation.

Here, Cherie Travis is publicly grateful for Animal Farm Foundation money:

The Chicago Police Department, The Chicago Animal Care and Control and the Cook county Sheriff's Departments all have close ties with Safe Humane Chicago which is solely funded by Best Friends Animal Society. Led by Cynthia Bathurst, Safe Humane Chicago was launched in 2008  with a $200,000 donation from BFAS. This money funded SHC's two projects: school programs teaching children how to be safe around and nice to dogs and programs teaching the CPD and CCSD how to conduct dogfighting busts that will stick. That's a good thing, obviously. We want those dogfighters jailed for their heinous, abusive and illegal activities. Right? Well, maybe not as much as we'd like to create new income streams with dogfighters' blood money.

Cynthia Bathurst is a BFAS national director and on
the advisory board of the NCRC which is a property
of Animal Farm Foundation.

Although SHC was heralding its part in an anti-dogfighting initiative as early as 2007 (link 2), SHC doesn't spend any money to prevent or reduce dogfighting in Chicago which is currently exploding into every neighborhood in the Windy City. It is no longer just for the ghetto anymore! Read about this amazingly huge, gang led, 60 dog, international, and presumably lucrative dogfighting operation that flourished behind a police station on the northwest side of chicago for six months before being busted.

Instead, SHC focuses on making sure dogfighting bust dogs can be put into communities across the country even if that means letting dogfighters off with no jail time and then parades pit bulls in front of city and suburban children saying "just say 'no' to dogfighting" (and don't you want a pit bull?). Cherie Travis is credited with implementing the policy changes that made this possible when she was hired as director of CACC in 2009.

SHC and D.A.W.G, it's sister/daughter/mother organization ( whatever, its all BFAS anyway), also works with the courts to encourage judges, lawyers and convicted dog fighters to trade the dogfighters' blood money for no jail time. You see, since dogfighters are often psychopathic gamblers, gang bangers, pimps and drug dealers, they often have surprisingly impressive caches of money and each of those dogfight bust dogs is potentially worth thousands of dollars. The blood money goes to pay for the "rehabilitation" of their fighting bred and trained dogs.

Quite shrewdly, Safe Humane Chicago does not adopt these "rehabilitated" fight bust dogs directly to the public. Instead, they funnel the dogs and most importantly transfer ownership (and liability), to willing rescues. This way, Chicago can transfer its problem with rampant dogfighting and ridiculously predatory pit bulls to communities all across the country.

This is all the rage in fighting dog rescue - transferring ownership to, in this case, another rescue, but this is also the latest fad when pawning the fighting dogs off on new adoptive families. Often, when dealing with a legitimate shelter or rescue, the rescue retains ownership of the dog for a period of time, or forever. This is to ensure that if they find out the adoptive owner is neglecting or abusing the dog, they can get the dog back to safety.

But, it becomes sticky if you're worried about liability associated with adopting out dogs you know full well might do just what Johnson's pits did. If you can stomach it, you can watch this AFF multimedia masterpiece called "Turbocharging Pit Bull Adoptions." It is sweeping the pit bull rescue community right now. In it, you can see them go the last mile and tell the pit nutters themselves THEY are stereotyping and over-generalizing, and committing breed specific atrocities. No one, it seems can say anything about pit bulls in general, not even that they're willing to please, without being a bigot. They tell you that pit bulls should be treated just like all the other dogs, and then they go on to share lots of tricks to get pit bulls adopted that other dogs don't need. .

Look closely and you will see that there are only three points, the rest is window dressing.
1. market pit bulls heavily
2. adopt to anyone

If you're going to take approaches 1 and 2 with pit bulls, especially those from dogfighting busts, 3 is ABSOLUTELY necessary if you don't want to get your butt sued. So, SHC seems to be a pilot program that is experimenting with how to create an infrastructure to get money out of the most dangerous fighting dogs and avoid all liability when dumping fight bust pit bulls into communities across the nation.

This is one of the tactics pit bull advocate take that demonstrates that these are not just well-meaning, yet misguided enthusiasts. The pit bull advocacy leadership is fully cognizant that pit bulls' genetic behavior and temperament make them a serious liability and that liability must be passed on to the next guy down the line.

A large number of these dogs are funneled back into Chicago. Among the many rescues that can apply for dogs, the Anti-Cruelty Society has dedicated 100 spots to receiving dogs from CACC, including spots for dogs with behavior problems and CACC also transfers ownership and liability to "Friends of CACC." Other dogs are transferred to the suburbs, and still others are shunted across the country. Travis transfered 7,000 dogs to who knows where in the last couple years.

If the fighting dogs cannot be "rehabilitated," they've figured out how to squeeze money out of those dogs, too. If the unstable dogs were simply put down, it would be harder to justify high fines on the gang banging dogfighters instead of jailing them. No problem, there are a growing number of "sanctuaries" popping up that are willing to take these unstable dogs and keep them in a cage for life as long as some of that blood money goes along with the dogs.

In theory, the liability transfer stops with the adoptive fighting dog owner. It certainly does when the irresponsible owner is a hypothetical dog abuser/dogfighter. But, Jimmy Johnson threw a monkey wrench into the pit bull liability transfer machinery. I bet Travis nearly fell off her chair when she heard Johnson actually came forward. What? A pit bull owner coming forward to take the blame for their irresponsible actions? Unheard of.

When it turns out that this irresponsible owner simply left the gate open, as literally millions of average dog owners have done, then the CACC can't afford to come down on him. It would place a pall on the pool of potential pit bull adopters, fosters, and rescuers if Chicago sent the message that if you leave your gate open, and your fighting dog gets out, you will be held criminally responsible for the devastating mauling that ensues. That leaves the victim as usual, on his own, to shoulder the burden. Take your maulings and like it Chicagoans!

Lithonia Georgia can hold their pit bull owners accountable, but the City of Big Shoulders has a been muzzled by some Utah cultists and a New York publisher.

Let Chicago and Illinois know that this is unacceptable:

City of Chicago
Cherie Travis, Commissioner of Chicago Animal Care and Control
Anita alvarez, Cook county State's Attorney's Office
Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General

Read more:
Craven Desires - Pit Bull Service Dogs
Chicago Tribune - Lakefront jogger critically injured by pit bulls: 'They wouldn't let the man go'
Accessed: 2012-01-02. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64Oyo4CBn)
CBS News - Chicago jogger critically hurt in pit bull attack
Accessed: 2012-01-02. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64OzHu8db)
NBC Chicago
Accessed: 2012-01-02. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64P0DvDRj)
Chicago Tribune - Pit bulls' owner faces fines after attack on lakefront jogger
Accessed: 2012-01-06. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64TuTfnVF)
State Journal-Register
Accessed: 2012-01-06. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/64TudssNf)
My Fox Chicago