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Catching Up with Former CACC Executive Director Susan Russell; Training Dogs to Sniff out COVID-19


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Whatever happened to Susan Russell, past executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC)? I talk HERE with Susan, now in Philadelphia, on my Steve Dale’s Pet World show on WGN  Radio.

Protesters unhappy with the firing of Susan Russell

Russell, a few years ago, turned around CACC. But what she did, she was only able to do because she pushed and pushed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Ray Lopez (yes, the self-proclaimed ‘animal alderman’ stood in her way frequently).

One thing, for example, Emanuel detested was Russell calling pit bull looking dogs “Chicago dogs.”

Finally, she was unceremoniously fired. When that happened, over a thousand protesters turned up at CACC headquarters, including several Mayoral candidates. Then, as it turned out, Emmanuel – who stood in Russell’s way of saving animals, and oddly listened to Ald. Lopez (15th) and then decided not to run for office anyway.

Susan Russell

It took some prodding – but Russell finally does offer what she was most proud of.

We also talked about COVID-19 and shelter animals, particularly municipal shelters.

Now with Lucy Noland, a former TV local Philly news anchor, Russell has co-authored, Gata Unbound: A Series for Ailurophiles of All Ages: Books 1 & 2: Klein’s Weird Evening & Archimedes’ Ear. I have no idea what this book title means – but Russell explains.  Some would call these illustrated books children’s books, but not Russell.

This debut in the Gata Unbound series delves into what’s going on and sets the stage for the wild world of felines—both indoor and outdoor. The ensuing volumes bring into focus the life-saving, humane tool known as trap-neuter-return-vaccinate.

Training Dogs to Sniff COVID-19

Speaking with Dr. Otto about training dogs to detect COVID-19, as well as various cancers

Dr. Cynthia Otto, director, Penn Vet Working Dog Center, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is teaching dogs to identify people with COVID-19. HEAR on WGN Radio, where we’ve reported many times and provided support for the Penn Vet Working Dog Center for their collaboration of Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness to train dogs to identify ovarian cancer.

So, how will dogs identify COVID and what value may that have? Dr.Otto explains how the heck you might encourage dogs to find COVID-19, and then what practical use such an ability may have. I also ask if there’s a chance the dogs Otto is training might perhaps get COVID-19 from the samples.

Here’s more on the Penn Vet Working Dog Center program with Dr. Otto:

Tips for Pets and Fireworks

I explain some of what what can you do for dogs terrified of fireworks.

I offer tips. And also, here are some practices you should NEVER do, especially around July 4 – they are inhumane.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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