20 Aug 2014
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Will CARE Walk? New Shelter Partnership Policy Will Be Reviewed Monday

An evening of reckoning? Human Services Committee will air proposed partnership policy for Evanston Animal Shelter at special meeting Monday night.

Members of the Evanston City Council’s Human Services Committee will discuss the proposed partnership policy for the Evanston Animal Shelter in a special meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Monday.

T he much-anticipated policy lays out the ground rules for the city’s partnership with a volunteer animal organization to help run the municipal animal shelter.

The organization Community Animal Rescue Effort, or CARE, has handled adoptions and care of the shelter’s animals on weekends and off-hours for more than 25 years. Some of the board members of CARE have served for at least that long.

"It’s a broader issue than how long a member has been on the board," Evanston City Manager Wally  Bobkiewicz said. “Whoever our partner is has to indicate if they’re following best practices and if not, why.”

Long-time CARE Board President Linda Gelb was on the defensive when asked to address some of the public comments at the last Human Services Committee meeting. (Watch the video.) 

Sources also tell Patch that the organization has hired an attorney and public relations firm to help restore CARE's battered image.

The new draft policy requires greater oversight and accountability. It also calls for the establishment of an animal control board, a fund specifically to accept donations for the care of the shelter animals, financial disclosures and background checks of volunteers.

It also establishes new criteria for how canine behavioral evaluations are administered.

At the March 3 meeting, aldermen suggested that CARE consider establishing term limits for its entrenched board members, which Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th Ward) found “suspect” because it didn’t lead to “growth or innovation.”

While Ald. Judy Fiske (1st Ward) asked for a call out to volunteer animal rescue organizations -- including CARE -- to apply for the job of managing adoptions and off-hour operations at the shelter, the Human Services Committee voted to draft a new policy spelling out the city’s expectations for a partnership.

CARE will get first refusal and can choose to walk, along with $1.3 million in donations the organization has amassed over the years. The public outcry of some of CARE’s practices have led the organization to hire an attorney and public relations consultant, some sources say.

Monday’s meeting is expected to last an hour, before another unrelated, special City Council meeting immediately following at 7 p.m. Human Services Committee members and CARE’s leadership have had a week to review the draft. City aldermen could vote to send the draft agreement to the Evanston City Council in the coming month.

The agreement, if accepted, will be in effect one year, pending any changes.

The special meeting starts at 6 p.m. March 31, in the council chamber at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.

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