See How DCAS Provides a Safety Net for our Community Pets

DCAS Newsletter Banner with image of dog in sunshine outside animal shelter.
A message from our Veterinarian AdministratorHelping Pets in Crisis - person's hand holding paw

Two things I’ve learned while working at DuPage County Animal Services (DCAS), is no day is routine and without its challenges. Two months ago, we received 47 animals from one house. Throughout the night, until morning, we examined 33 severely emaciated adult and young dogs and 14 deceased animals including dogs, rabbits, and chinchillas. One week later, our Animal Control Officers uncovered another 13 skeletal remains of animals long deceased.

With the help from both DuPage County’s States Attorney and Sheriff, these animals came to DCAS away from the unsafe and unsanitary conditions many had known their whole lives.

Fast forward to today: 32 dogs survived the hazards of the hoarding home and thrived under our care, many doubling their weight to reach healthy, appropriate sizes. One dog was sadly diagnosed with Evans Syndrome and in very poor condition; we humanely euthanized him to end his suffering.  

The surviving dogs went into foster homes where loving families provided care and support. The majority of these dogs have already received dental cleanings, spay/neuter surgeries, and new families. They, like Finn pictured here, have made great strides both physically and mentally, showing us how resilient our furry friends can be and how proper care and a lot of love can make a world of difference for our pets.

Before and after photos of Finn, a husky that was very skinny when it arrived at DCAS

Reflecting on this summer, I’m struck with a handful of amazing life lessons I’d like to share:

  1. Adult dogs can lose over 50% of their body weight and still survive with the proper intervention.
  2. Animal hoarding can result from severe mental illness and it takes neighbors, family, and friends to stay connected and check in on each other. Available mental health services in DuPage County.
  3. One person “seeing something and saying something” can save the lives of many animals.
  4. It truly takes a village to do what we do every day. From the young person who alerted DCAS to our ENTIRE team, including our caring and hardworking Animal Control Officers, caretakers, front office staff, foster/volunteer coordinators, and humane educator to our veterinary team. We would be lost without our ever-present volunteers, including foster families who opened their homes and brought the dogs in for frequent rechecks, our adopters, donors, DuPage Animal Friends, our Sheriff and States Attorney, and the Zoning Department.
  5. Never have I realized on such a grand scale, the safety net we provide for the animals in our community. I’m incredibly thankful.

We may like to believe that such suffering can never happen in our communities, but mental health struggles are not limited by zip code. Check in with the people you love to make sure they are receiving the care they need. By supporting the people of DuPage County, we support their pets as well.

Dr. Hanek Signature

Dr. Barbara Hanek,

Veterinarian Administrator

Buyer Beware: Backyard Breeders

Skinny, lactating yellow lab missing one eye in front of animal shelter building

They may seem like the nice neighbor down the street. But where we see a living animal who needs our protection, they see only an opportunity for cash.

Illinois has been striking back at puppy mills, commercial breeding facilities that supply puppies to pet stores, due to their inhumane treatment of dogs. But backyard breeders are also motivated by profit and put that above the welfare of the animals in their care. Operating in the shadows, they can be harder for law enforcement officials to monitor. Animals may be kept in unsanitary conditions, denied necessary vet care, and bred over and over again without regard to their physical or mental health. Animals unable to breed anymore may be destroyed or abandoned like this stray lab brought to DCAS who we suspect was used for breeding.  

Backyard breeders may only breed their family dog once in awhile, but they often are not knowledgeable on how to breed responsibly, such as screening for genetic defects. Responsible, proper breeding entails much more than simply putting two dogs together. 

So how can you help? Look for responsible breeders who place the welfare of animals above the desire for a profit. 

  • Avoid purchasing animals from websites, contact the breeder directly
  • Do your research with a breeder. Ask: 
    • to see where the dogs spend their time and meet the puppy’s parents
    • about the puppy’s medical history, including vaccines, and request their veterinarian’s contact info.
    • how often puppies are available. Responsible breeders do not breed year round but may keep a waiting list for interested people.
    • verify how old puppies are. Responsible breeders will not separate puppies from mom before at least 8 weeks of age so puppies are properly socialized and healthy enough to eat on their own. 
  • Seek out breed specific rescues and adopt instead
    • Some "rescues" act as fronts for puppy mills, ask questions about where they get their puppies and check the prices and medical care they provide. 

Responsible breeders do not pressure buyers and want to make sure their puppies are going into good homes. They will also make a commitment to take back the pet at anytime during the animal’s life, no matter the reason. Responsible breeders will ask you about your lifestyle and provide counseling for caring for the dogs. Remember: if they don't care enough to ask questions, they probably don't care about the puppy.

Visit the Humane Society of the United States website to learn more about finding responsible breeders.

Adopt Don't Shop Applies to the Smalls Too!

Adoptable Frill and Gummy, two guinea pigs

One of the stories we see repeatedly at DCAS is unwanted litters being born. Sometimes, people will purchase small pets or rabbits from a pet store and accidentally come home with a male and a female, instead of two females. Since pet store employees are not animal care professionals (they're there to sell stuff), they can mis-sex animals leading to whoopsie babies like Frill and Gummy the guinea pigs. 

If you adopt small animals and rabbits from reputable rescues, not only can you be confident the pets match their descriptions, you'll know they were examined by a veterinarian and properly cared for. These guinea girls are only a few months old and have had a rough start to life. The shelter is no place to grow up but they are starting to come out of their shell in a foster home. Are you ready to take these sweeties home and give them the love and attention they deserve? Click on their picture to fill out an application today! 

Pet CPR and First Aid Workshop Dates Open

DCAS Workshop Pet CPR and First Aid

$100 per participant, 16 years old and up.

Follow the link below to register. Slots are available first come, first served. 

This course teaches first aid techniques to address the most common emergencies pet owners may experience with dogs and cats in the household. This course will train you to notice abnormalities and detect early warning signs in pets. You will also learn essential pre-vet care and life-saving techniques for those times when immediate action can make all the difference.

Please remember, your slot is not secured until payment is received.

November 4, 2023 9am-3pm

December 9, 2023 9am-3pm