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Protest Planned After Animal Control Director Ousted

The protest is planned for Tuesday evening.

Susan Russell was removed from her position as director of Chicago Animal Care and Control. [Mayor's Office/Facebook]
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CHICAGO — Animal activists plan to protest the controversial removal of the city’s Animal Control director.

Director Susan Russell was removed from her post as director of Chicago Animal Care and Control over the weekend. More than 400 people on Facebook have said they plan to peacefully protest Russell’s ouster.

“Susan has been the best director [Animal Control] has ever seen and leaves the shelter with the lowest euthanasia rates ever,” organizers wrote on the Facebook event for the protest.

In 2014, before Russell took over as director, about nearly 25 percent of the animals who came through Animal Control were euthanized while about 64 percent were adopted out, returned to an owner or transferred out, according to department statistics. In 2017, 11.7 percent of animals were euthanized while 74 percent were adopted, transferred or returned to an owner.

But City Hall sources told the Sun-Times that Russell was fired because the pound has operated beyond capacity since February, housed dogs in “inhumane conditions” and adopted out “dangerous dogs.” The pound reported a rise in biting incidents, and one dog that was adopted out killed its new owner’s other dog, according to the Sun-Times. 

Russell denied dogs were “warehoused” at the pound and said the Mayor’s office was looking for an excuse to fire her because of the furor over her dismissal, according to the Sun-Times.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel replaced Russell with Kelley Gandurski on an acting basis. In a news release, Emanuel said Gandurski would fulfill Animal Control’s mission of providing “quality, humane care to animals” and ensuring “the safety of our residents.”

Animal Care and Control works to find homes and care for thousands of abandoned and stray animals in the city every year. Russell had been the department’s director for about two years.

The protest is scheduled for 7:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Chicago Animal Care and Control, 2741 S. Western Ave.