Hundreds of stray dogs, cats and other lost or abandoned pets, many of which make their wandering migration in search of food and shelter from the adjacent Chicago neighborhood of Austin, are brought in to Oak Park’s Animal Care League every year, according to Kira Robson, league’s executive director.

Robson tells Wednesday Journal that Austin was identified by the Humane Society of United States’ Pets for Life program as one of two target areas in Chicago in need of help.

She said the problem areas for strays is calculated through a combination of the number of people living in poverty, the number of people with pets and the resources — like pet stores and veterinarians — available.

The Animal Care League in partnership Chicago Animal Care and Control, Lost Dogs Illinois and the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation, is reaching out to Austin residents on Saturday, July 11, to provide low-cost vaccines and microchipping, free pet ID tags, pet food, spay/neuter vouchers and other services. The event will be held at 5660 W. Madison St. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Robson said the event also aims to get the word out to Austin residents that the resources offered by the Animal Care League, 1011 Garfield St. in Oak Park, also are available to Austin residents.

The Animal Care League also has partnered with Prevail, a human services organization that offers resources to low-income people, such as job training and affordable healthcare options.

“The goal is to reach out to and talk to people and let them know they can come to us if they want to get their animal fixed,” she said. “We want to be able to say, ‘Hey, we’re here.'”

Robson said that, according to Chicago Animal Control, the number of stray pets coming from that area is 43 percent higher than the average for other Chicago neighborhoods. It also is in the top 16 areas of the city where stray dogs and cats are discovered, according to an Animal Care League press release.

She said the Humane Society of the United States also is targeting the neighborhoods of Little Village and Lawndale for its oversized stray population.

Robson said the flow of stray animals often makes its way into Oak Park, but it is difficult to tell where most of the animals started their journeys.

She said her organization takes in an average of 10 to 15 strays every month. That number grows in the summer, she said.

“Oak Park works with the Austin community in other areas, but we’re not working on the animals there,” she said. “We’d really like to bridge that gap.”

She said that in 2014, the Animal Care League took in 582 stray pets. Police and the Oak Park’s Animal Control Department brought in 300 dogs, 195 cats, one rabbit, and one chicken. Residents brought 67 cats, 11 dogs, five guinea pigs and one rabbit.

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