Chicago Animal Control Sued for Withholding RecordsPosted on January 23, 2014
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Animal Legal Defense Fund Takes City Shelter to Court for Failure to Produce Public Documents on Treatment of Cats and Dogs
CHICAGO – Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) for failure to produce crucial public records regarding the safety and well-being of hundreds of cats and dogs held at the shelter. The complaint, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, comes under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, which gives the public the right to access information such as veterinary treatment–or lack thereof–and numbers of animals held by the facility. CACC has routinely cited “undue burden” in response to public records requests despite its legal obligation to cooperate with and share its public documents. CACC is a publicly funded facility with electronic records of the regular impoundment of animals in the Chicago area. ALDF seeks a court order to inspect these public records in order to ensure that homeless animals are receiving the legal protections to which they are entitled.
Chicago’s shelter—which houses over 500 animals—has regularly failed to produce medical history reports and kennel cards for the animals in its care. In December, 2013, the CACC lost track of 1200 cats when it released them to a rescue group that subsequently could not account for the animals. Media reports broke a story this week that questioned CACC’s role in a recent stray dog attack in a suburban Chicago neighborhood.
Illinois received top rankings for animal protection laws, according to ALDF’s eighth annual State Rankings Report—the longest-running, most comprehensive report of its kind. Illinois’ Animal Welfare Act, Animal Control Act, and Humane Care for Animals Act are examples of the state’s strong animal protection laws. Without enforcement and access to records, today’s lawsuit argues the public cannot hold facilities accountable to these animal protection laws.
“Public transparency is crucial when it comes to the welfare of so many homeless cats and dogs,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Chicago taxpayers want the best for the city’s homeless animals, and this secrecy by taxpayer funded CACC tramples upon our ability to prevent the abuse of animals.”
Copies of the lawsuit are available by request.