Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Wild Cats and Dogs
Nature Bulletin No. 119   June 7, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation

One afternoon not long ago, while searching on a steep wooded hillside for some uncommon plants reported to be growing there, we noticed an automobile stop on the highway below. A door opened, then slammed shut, and the car went on. Left behind were two bewildered whimpering mongrel pups.

It was a cruel thing to do. If they were not killed or seriously crippled by passing vehicles they probably would have died from starvation. Yet, hundreds of people get rid of surplus pups and kittens in this fashion. Others, moving to a new location or going on vacation, will either walk off and leave a dog or cat to shift for itself, or dump it in the forest preserves. It would be far kinder to chloroform them. A telephone call would bring a truck from an agency whose business it is to pick up and dispose of the unwanted animal.

Few of these town-bred animals are able to find food and shelter. Few survive. But those that do, and those that run away to become wild, are the worst enemies of wildlife. Our rangers shoot them on sight. Dogs are not permitted in the preserves except on leash. Wild cats prey upon fledgling birds and rabbits and squirrels. Some become very large and powerful. We killed one battle-scarred cat that weighed 18 lbs.

Wild dogs usually hunting in pairs or in packs of three or four, become cunning vicious killers that live upon quail, pheasants, rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife. Some of them interbreed with the coyotes in the Palos preserves. Some become infected with rabies and transmit it to other dogs permitted to roam. They are always lean, hungry and vicious but so furtive and swift they are rarely seen.

If you have an unwanted cat or dog, or one you must get rid of, use the telephone if you are unable to destroy it yourself or if you want to find it a good home. In most large towns there is a "dog catcher" and a pound. In Chicago, as in every big city, there are also a Humane Society, an Anti-Cruelty Society, and animal-shelter societies that are devoted to the job of finding homes for such animals or will humanely dispose of them.

To abandon them is a contemptible cowardly crime.

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