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I'm Worried I'll Need to Give Up My Pet, What Should I Do?

By Kyla Gardner | May 19, 2015 5:46am
 Friendship Pet Food Pantry in Lincoln Square helps struggling pet owners get food for their four-legged family members.
Friendship Pet Food Pantry in Lincoln Square helps struggling pet owners get food for their four-legged family members.
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Facebook/Friendship Pet Food Pantry

CHICAGO — This year, Chicago rescue organizations have taken in several animals dumped in public places.

Josh, a pitbull who uses a wheelchair and is working to walk again, was found in a Dumpster in January, and earlier this month, at least nine rabbits were left in an Irving Park parking lot.

What resources do struggling pet owners have?

"There’s help. Just call somebody. Don’t abandon the animals outside," said Marcia Coburn, president of Red Door Animal Shelter, which is a no-kill shelter with dogs, cats and rabbits.

Here are some Chicago resources for those needing extra help to keep their four-legged family members:

Food Assistance

Friendship Pet Food Pantry at 2733 W. Lawrence Ave. in Lincoln Square gives out pet food from 3-5 p.m. on the third Friday of every month. There are no income checks or other eligibility requirements. The next food handout will be June 19. When available, the shelter also hands out dog and cat toys, leashes and other items.

If a pet is spayed or neutered, low-income owners are eligible to get free food from Red Door Animal Shelter's Cafe program. Food can be picked up from the shelter at 2410 W. Lunt Ave. during regular business hours, or from the Howard Area Community Center, 7648 N. Paulina St., from 1-2 p.m. on the last Friday of every month.

The Pet Food Bank at Paws Chicago, 1997 N. Clybourn Ave. in Lincoln Park, "provides emergency assistance to families facing unemployment, foreclosure or other financial crises." The program can also offer litter, leashes, carriers and other essential items.

Tree House Humane Society offers supplemental pet food for low- or fixed-income families at its Uptown headquarters, 1212 W. Carmen Ave. and Bucktown branch, 1629 N. Ashland Ave.

Bad Behavior

Pets with behavior issues can be especially difficult for owners who can't afford training. The Anti-Cruelty Society has a free cat and dog behavior help line, where experts can advise on problems like aggression and separation anxiety. The line can be reached at 312-644-8338, Ext. 343.

Finding a Pet-Friendly Place to Live

Here are links to pet-friendly listings in Chicago on apartments.com, apartmentguide.com, cityleash.com and Craigslist.

Temporary Shelter for Pets of Displaced Families

The SAFE program — "Short-term Accommodations for Emergencies" — at the Anti-Cruelty Society, 157 W. Grand Ave in the Gold Coast, is for use by owners displaced from their homes for any reason, whether it's a fire, natural disaster or domestic violence.

Pets can get up to 30 free days of care either at the shelter or in foster homes, and owners are encouraged to visit weekly. More info on eligibility for the program is here, and the 2015 application is here.

Low-Cost Vet Care

The Anti-Cruelty Society offers a low-income vet clinic, and eligibility requirements can be found by calling 312-644-8338, Ext. 350 or 351.

The Lurie Clinic at Paws Chicago offers sliding-scale and free spay and neuter surgeries. Prices can be found here.

Tree House Humane Society in Uptown and Bucktown offers free and low-cast spay and neuter surgeries. More information is here.

The City of Chicago's Animal Care and Control, 2741 S. Western Ave. in Little Village, offers a low-cost cat and dog vaccine and micro-chipping clinic once per month. Find more details and upcoming dates here.

Giving Up Your Pet

For those who are sure they can no longer care for their pet, they can relinquish them at shelters throughout the city. The Animal Welfare League takes in pets at its South Side facility at 6224 S. Wabash Ave.

Sometimes owners need to give up the pet to the shelter from which they adopted it, so they should give that shelter a call to find out.

Purebred pets might be eligible to go to breed-specific rescue groups, or specialty mixed-breed groups like the Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue.

Pregnancy, Allergies & Exotic Pets

Red Door Animal Shelter receives calls each month from women who believe they need to give up their cat while pregnant, but that's a myth, the shelter said.

If someone in the household has allergies, it might be more than the pet, according to Red Door. For rabbits, it is usually the hay people are allergic to, and not the rabbit itself.

For those with exotic animals, like small mammals or birds, Animal House of Chicago, an animal hospital at 2752 W. Lawrence Ave. in Ravenswood, offers a great list of resources for local rescues and information.

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