Feb 05, 2016 Illinois Pit Bull Advocates Behaving Badly

Karma is a Bitch for Chicago Animal Care and Control 

Chicago Animal Care and Control is experiencing what some might call a karmic event.  After years of promoting pit bulls, fighting all regulation of pit bulls, pushing more and more pit bulls into neighborhoods and doing nothing to protect people and pets from pit bull attacks and deaths with their pro-pit bull policies, pit bulls are coming back and biting CACC in the rear.

CACC is being raked over the coals by “animal activists” for the alleged poor treatment of animals in its care and for not responding to calls of possible animal cruelty. WBBM Newsradio and the non-profit government watchdog Better Government Association launched investigations.

In a side note, CACC might be overwhelmed with possible animal cruelty calls because some Chicago residents have learned that they have no hope of getting their call answered if they are merely concerned about their own safety, the safety of their children or their pets from stray dogs, mostly pit bulls.  Some have found that their only chance to get a menacing pit bull removed from the neighborhood is to call it in as animal neglect or cruelty when the dangerous dog is left out in a yard or barks non-stop inside of an apartment, for example.  But, it seems that practice may have caught on and CACC can no longer keep up with those calls either.

In addition to not answering calls, their handling of three dogs in particular is being called out as inhumane and unprofessional.  All those dogs are pit bulls and two of them had known behavior problems.

In April 2014, a pit bull named Chance was euthanized after he was first placed on the mandatory 5-day stray hold and then was placed on rescue status where he remained for 4 additional days.  According to CACC, no rescue came forward in those 9 days to put a rescue hold on him.  Rescuers claim that someone with CACC failed to put the pit bull on hold after a rescue said they would take him.

For some reason, CACC, the BGA and the animal activists are all calling this pit bull a “mixed breed dog” and the video of him was taken down from youtube.  Here is a screen grab made by BGA showing that he was indeed a pit bull.

In a second incident, in April 2015, a CACC pit bull named Missy that was up for adoption was behaving badly at a hockey game.  What was a homeless pit bull doing at a hockey game?  It was being offered for adoption to any hockey fan in attendance with money, along with over a dozen other dogs.  In Chicago you can go to a hockey game, pick out a dog before the game and pick it up on your way out.

However, Missy was having behavior problems and was put back in the van while the rest of the dogs were adopted.  After the event, the driver returned to van to CACC.  Missy was forgotten and left in the van for 5 days with little food or water before anyone found her.  CACC turned her over, underweight, to a private rescue who said she would need weeks of behavior training before she could be adopted.

The third incident was revealed by a FOIA request from BGA for security video which CACC refused to make public after a very aggressive pit bull was brought in to CACC on two catch poles.  The pit bull was apparently strangled to unconsciousnes, and then dragged by the neck.  The workers dragging the unconscious pit bull may have believed the pit bull was dead but a veterinary examination revealed the pit bull was still alive.  The dangerously aggressive pit bull was then scheduled for euthanasia, but died 30 minutes before the scheduled appointment with the needle.

CACC created this situation where Chicago is drowning in aggressive and unwanted pit bulls.  And now they’re having to handle the consequences of their creation - and they’re not handling it well.  It is interesting that these dog incidents have prompted media and government watchdog investigations, but the serious mauling of a CACC employee by yet another pit bull got virtually no coverage, zero followup, and no known investigation into CACC safety practices.

And in Elgin - More Pit Bull Advocates Behaving Badly

Elgin animal control officer James Rog was charged with two Class 3 felony counts of theft and two Class 3 felony counts of official misconduct. He is accused of stealing over $6,000 from a police-affiliated youth program called Elgin Law Enforcement Explorer Post 1445.

Elgin officals decided to look into their own Explorer program after the leader of the Fox Lake Explorer program, Lt. “GI Joe” Gliniewicz, killed himself when he realized his theft of Explorer funds was going to be exposed. Gliniewicz staged his own suicide to make it look like he was a hero cop killed in the line of duty.

The Chicago Tribune interviewed Rog about Gliniewicz' illegal activities and Rog is quoted as saying that "...people are going to make mistakes." (!!!) That quote may be what prompted Elgin officials to look into Rog's program.

It turns out that James Rog is also one of Ledy VanKavage’s protogees.  Van Kavage is one of the most influential pit bull advocates in the country.  Rog probably became acquainted with VanKavage as he worked to torpedo several attempts to enact a pit bull ban in Elgin.  He is one of only three people, and the only animal control officer in the state, listed as a resource person for one of Ledy VanKavage’s programs for Illinois Police Officers, “Animal Abuse and Cruelty; Canine Behavior and Police Response.”  The other two resource people are Ledy VanKavage herself, and Cherie Travis, former executive director of CACC.
Wholesome Threesome
Cherie Travis, Ledy VanKavage, James Rog
VanKavage pushed for courses to train Illinois police officers not to shoot dogs.  Her interest in that lies in the fact that most of the dogs shot by police are pit bulls - and they are usually shot with good reason.  She got legislation enacted to require training for Illinois police to reduce dog shootings, co-wrote the book used as reference and developed classes for police officers.  This is her baby and she entrusted only two people in the entire state besides herself to teach these classes.  Rog, charged with 4 felony counts, and Cherie Travis, former executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control.

In 2009, Travis was hired as the executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control and immediately did the bidding of VanKavage and VanKavage's employer, Best Friends Animal Society, by changing CACC policies so that fight bust pit bulls could be adopted to the public. In 2010, as executive director of CACC, Travis famously refused to admit the dogs that killed Johnny Wilson in Chicago were pit bulls even though police, the owners, and neighbors all identified them as pit bulls.  Travis also praised “the character” of the irresponsible pit bull owner who let his known-aggressive pit bulls escape from their yard and maul a jogger named Joseph Finley so badly that he lost his leg in 2012.

CACC under Travis’ direction was the subject of an undercover news investigation that showed overcrowding and animals in poor condition as Travis tried to enact No Kill policies.  When asked by a reporter to define the No Kill philosophy, Travis could not explain it and told the reporter she would need to ask Best Friends Animal Society to define No Kill.

In 2012 Cherie Travis was summarily fired with no reason given other than the city “decided to go in another direction.”  The reason for her firing became apparent a few months later when it was revealed that she was being sued by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office for alleged misuse of funds from her own non-profit animal rescue group.

In 2013 the state settled with Travis.  She agreed to repay with interest the improper loans she made to her mother and friend from her nonprofit. In addition, she is banned for life from running the non-profit she founded and she was banned for three years from serving in a leadership capacity with any other nonprofit organization.

Travis is now the assistant general counsel for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.  She also works for Ledy VanKavage and gives presentations on the problem of dog shootings by police (mostly pit bulls) in Chicago and trains Illinois police officers to not shoot pit bulls.

These are the people teaching cops to risk their lives by giving pit bulls they encounter the benefit of the doubt when experts have said time and again that pit bulls are notorious for not giving signs or signals before an attack - and worse, pit bulls can give misleading signals.  In the text used for these police training courses, co-written by Ledy VanKavage, police officers are warned that if they shoot a a dog, they could be sued.

I wonder if Rog is still going to lead his upcoming scheduled class on February 16.  He will need the money. Ledy is probably savvy enough to know not to give either of these two access to the budget.

Read more:
NBC Chicago - Chance Killed
ABC 7 Chicago - Pit Bull Left in Van
Better Government  Association (video) - Dangerous Pit Bull
Chicago Tribune - Jame Rog
Chicago Tribune - James Rog
Chicago Tribune - Cherie Travis Fired
Chicago Tribune - Cherie Travis Lawsuit Settlement
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Police Training Course
Police Training Course James Rog

Related posts:
May 22, 2015 CBS Chicago Investigative Reporter Follows Up on Pit Bull Left in CACC Van
Feb 12, 2014 Chicago woman gives up walking her dog because of pit bull and other dangerous dog attacks
Oct 10, 2012 Loose aggressive pit bulls menace Humboldt Park resident and her dog
Cherie Travis helps North Chicago with Animal Law
It Is Time, Elgin
Who runs CACC and why won't Chicago Punish Irresponsible Pit Bull Owners?