LOGAN SQUARE — When the founders of dog rescue One Tail at a Time found out Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) had rejected their plans to open a new center in a long-vacant former liquor store, they felt defeated — and exhausted.
The group said for months it met all of Maldonado’s requests, collected hundreds of signatures in support and stayed “quiet and patient” — only to be blown off by Maldonado in the end.
“That was a tough blow,” executive director Heather Owen said.
But now, with help from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, the nonprofit has found a new building in a neighboring ward and, this time, it hopes 1st Ward Ald.-elect Daniel La Spata — and the broader community — will see the benefits and lend support to the project.
“We’re still really frustrated and upset by the process with Ald. Maldonado. He showed us the worst of the worst of Chicago politics,” Owen said.
“We were really weary going forward, but the mayor’s office and Ald. La Spata have been really great and showed us the best of Chicago politics. We’re seeing the flip side here.”
One Tail at a Time is now looking to move into a city-owned building at 2460 W. Cortland St., also in Logan Square but situated in the 1st Ward. Like the original building, this deal is also subject to a zoning change that requires aldermanic blessing.
Owen said the property is ideal because the city wants to lease it to them for $1 a year. That, and it’s in Logan Square, which is where many of their volunteers and adopters live.
“It basically has everything we need,” Owen said.
Unlike Maldonado, who Owen said wasn’t interested in holding a community meeting on the matter, La Spata wants to get broad community feedback on the proposal before he makes a final decision. A town hall meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. May 22 at the Joinery, 2533 W. Homer St.
One Tail At A Time has been operating since 2008 and opened an adoption center in Bucktown in 2015. Owen said the new building would be used as an isolation center for dogs that are sick or injured.
The Bucktown adoption center, located at 2144 N. Wood St., houses 10 kennels for dogs that are ready to be adopted. Approximately 150 dogs in total are in the organization’s system, with most of them living with foster owners around the city for between two and six weeks until they are adopted.
For nearly a year, Owen was under contract to buy the original building at 3579 W. Dickens Ave., but that deal fell through after Maldonado rejected the zoning change.
Owen said she collected hundreds of signatures in support of the project and talked to neighbors at Maldonado’s request, but nothing was good enough for him. She said Maldonado seemed concerned that the facility would be situated in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
“He kept passing us off, saying that he wasn’t ready to make a decision, that he needed more time. Then in October, he told us that he wouldn’t consider it until after the election,” Owen previously said.
Maldonado didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Based on her interactions with La Spata and the mayor’s office, Owen is hopeful this new building will work out. But she said the amount of time it’s taken to get to this point is unforgivable.
“There’s no other way to say it: 100 percent dogs are dying because we’re being held up,” Owen said. “We need to increase our capacity for care to take care of animals in Chicago shelters.”
Owen strongly encourages neighbors to attend La Spata’s town hall meeting whether they support the project or not. One of many problems she had with Maldonado was that he never solicited broad community feedback.
“We want to be part of this process so we can hear the concerns and we can be good neighbors,” she said.