FAQ: About the Society
What services does The Anti-Cruelty Society provide?
- Affordable Spay and Neuter
- Charity Veterinary Clinic
- Free Behavior Helpline
- Humane Education
- Humane Investigations
- Owner Requested Euthanasia
- Pet Loss Support
- SAFE Program (Short Term Accommodations for Emergencies)
- School of Dog Training
- Volunteer Opportunities
Are you no-kill?
Although The Anti-Cruelty Society’s live release rate qualifies us for utilizing the term, we intentionally choose not to identify ourselves as a no-kill organization. The Society is Chicago’s premier open door shelter – which means we accept every animal that is brought to us regardless of health, age, breed, species, or behavior. Unlike many self-identified no-kill shelters, we do not prescreen and prohibit animals in need from coming to our facility. For that reason, we choose to steer away from using the no-kill term.
There is no time limit placed on animals in our adoption centers. Every animal in our care receives a medical and behavioral evaluation upon admission. Many animals can be placed in our adoption program immediately. Those who don’t qualify are transferred to a partner or receive behavior modification, medical treatment, or foster care to help them move onto the next step. In cases of untreatable illnesses or behavior issues that compromise people’s safety, we sometimes face the difficult decision to euthanize an animal but it’s only once we’ve tried everything else first.
Are you supported by tax dollars?
No, we are a private, non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization and rely on the generous support from caring individuals, our events, and caring foundations and corporations.
Are you part of a national organization?
No, we are a private, non-profit organization based in Chicago since 1899. We do not receive operating funding from any parent organization.
How many animals do you help in an average year?
- Our veterinarians spay/neuter more than 8,000 pets each year.
- We adopt more than 4,000 dogs and cats each year.
- Our Humane Investigators respond to more than 1,000 complaints concerning animal abuse or neglect.
- Our Behavior Helpline helps more than 2,000 pet owners each year.
How can you work/volunteer there? It’s so sad.
Visit our facility and you’ll find that it’s an inviting, bright, and clean place! Thanks to hardworking staff and volunteers, pets in our facility receive quality care, social interaction, and exercise. We see the work we do as both rewarding and inspiring because we have a positive impact on the lives of many animals and on the people we reach. While we do see sad cases of cruelty or neglect, we also experience the joy and satisfaction that comes when we rescue the animal and find a loving, new home.
I want to volunteer at The Anti-Cruelty Society. How can I get involved?
Volunteering at The Anti-Cruelty Society means more than just spending time with a cat or dog—it’s about making a difference in our community, preparing animals to meet their forever families, facilitating life-long bonds, and networking with other animal-loving people along the way. Whether you have several hours a week or just a handful of hours every month, the animals need you! For details, read here.
Do you have age restrictions on working or volunteering at The Anti-Cruelty Society?
Employees and regular volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. We do offer a teen service learning opportunity; visit our website for details, read here.
How do you determine when an animal’s “time is up?”
We do not impose artificial time limits on animals. As long as the animal remains healthy and behaviorally sound, he/she will stay in our adoption program. Staff and volunteers socialize and exercise animals to help keep them healthy while they are in our care. If an animal begins to show signs of stress in the shelter, we may transfer him/her to another facility or rescue group or provide a temporary respite in a foster home.
What are rescues and why to you send some pets to them?
Rescues are organizations that find home for specific breeds or animals with special needs such as medical or behavioral issues. They are often run solely by volunteers and fosters, meaning they have no permanent facility. Many have waiting lists for their particular breed. We screen all of our rescue partners to ensure the best animal welfare. We use rescues and other partners to help us place as many animals as possible into permanent homes.
Can I enroll my dog in the School of Dog Training even though I didn’t adopt from you?
Absolutely, we welcome dogs from any source! Dogs must be vaccinated, healthy, and adult dogs must be spayed or neutered. And anyone can use our free Behavior Helpline and our affordable spay/neuter clinic.
FAQ Rescue Transports:
What is a rescue transport?
A rescue transport saves animals, usually dogs, from shelters in regions of the country that have an overpopulation of homeless pets by transporting them to areas of the country that possess the resources to care for them and find loving families to adopt them.
Why does The Anti-Cruelty Society participate in these rescue transports?
The shelters that have an overpopulation of homeless pets are shelters that do not have the capacity (space and/or resources) and do not have enough people locally willing and able to provide homes for them. Often these areas do not have affordable spay/neuter services available. The Anti-Cruelty Society is an open-admission shelter, meaning we accept animals in need, provide necessary care and adopt all healthy and behaviorally-sound animals, no matter how long it takes. By taking in animals via rescue transports, we are saving the lives of pets that would otherwise be euthanized.
Doesn’t Chicago have an overpopulation problem? What about local animals?
In the last 5 years, owner surrenders to the Society have declined by almost half. Chicago’s dog population is largely under control due to a long history of providing affordable spay/neuter and educating the public about the benefits of adopting rather than buying a pet. We also offer an array of services designed to keep animals in their present homes. Chicago does have an overpopulation of pit bull type dogs because most shelters will not accept them and many of these dogs are under-socialized and untrained. Because we are an open admission shelter, the Society takes in any animal and does not discriminate based on breed.
Do you take animals from Chicago Animal Care and Control?
We have taken many dogs from Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) throughout the years, and we currently accept animals from a variety of sources. Almost 20 years ago we pioneered the concept of animal transfers out of Chicago Animal Care and Control, and since then they have added more than 200 Homeward Bound partners. The only dogs that are at risk at CACC are pit bull types. Since The Anti-Cruelty Society is an open admission shelter, the thousands of animals that enter our shelter never have to enter the City system, and we accept pit bull types, unlike most limited admission shelters. In 2015, we accepted more than 700 stray cats that traditionally would have gone to the City.
Are dogs already in The Anti-Cruelty Society at risk because of transport dogs?
Absolutely not. Transports do not displace other animals in our shelter. The Anti-Cruelty Society never euthanizes a healthy or behaviorally sound animal, no matter how long it has been in our care. We do not euthanize for time or space.