CITY HALL — An animal-advocate alderman is pressing a probe of Animal Care and Control in last week's death of a female pit bull named Devyn.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) said this week he was not satisfied with Animal Control's explanation that the impounded dog developed kennel cough and died of pneumonia.
"Kennel cough is not life-threatening," said Lopez, who has eight dogs of his own and has sponsored legislation in the City Council to make Chicago, and its shelter at 2741 S. Western Ave., a "no-kill city."
Lopez said he has information that the dog was thought to be pregnant, but that a volunteer's request for a pregnancy test "was ignored."
Lopez also took issue with Animal Control's timeline that no rescue agency turned up for 11 days, at which point the dog was found dead in its cage.
"No employee noticed the animal was dead," he added, "even though a technician had 'checked' the cage minutes before the volunteer found it deceased."
According to Lopez, the rescue agency interested in taking Devyn asked to receive the body to confirm the diagnosis.
"For unexplained reasons, the body was not released," Lopez said. "It is believed the agency wanted to verify the cause of death, not fully believing the 'pneumonia' explanation given."
Susan Russell, executive director of Animal Control, stood by the agency's version of events.
"Since starting this job just three months ago, I am and have been committed to improving live outcomes for all animals and am working to identify and implement operational improvements to help achieve this goal," Russell said.
Animal Control added that, by law, animals at the shelter are considered property of the city, and it does not release the bodies of dead animals, but disposes of them in a safe and proper manner.
Lopez said he is pursuing Freedom of Information Act requests he's submitted to the department, and he expects they "will prove that every month we have reports of unexplained animal deaths of the same volume."
According to data released by Animal Control, 41 animals died in custody last month, including 16 dogs and 16 cats.
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