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2011 Holiday Appeal

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December 2011

Dear Friend of A.D.O.P.T.,

A trip to an open-admission city shelter is never a pleasant experience, but animals are suffering, there are lives to be saved, and healing and recovery that desperately need to begin.  This is what A.D.O.P.T. is all about!  This particular day, our staff was able to select several cats to make the journey to safety and to a new life beginning at A.D.O.P.T Pet Shelter.

Rather than choose the highly desirable young kittens purring for their attention, our staff set their sights on those cats most in need and most likely to be passed over by other visiting rescue teams. Cole and Sofie caught their attention and secured a new lease on life that day. Both were very ill but thought to have a good chance at a full recovery. Both had been dumped at the pound by their owners and had become very stressed.

Cole had stopped eating and as a consequence developed fatty liver disease. After several months of treatment and force-feeding he made a full recovery. He since has found a new home and his happy ending. His friend Sofie however suffered greater consequences from her poor nutrition. Her eyes remain permanently dilated due to a taurine deficiency. With proper vitamin supplementation, permanent damage will be avoided and Sofie can live a long happy life with her new family.  Is yours the family that can provide a happy ending and a warm, safe home for Sofie? 

Cole and Sofie are a couple of the lucky ones. Like all other animal shelters and animal control facilities, this year we have been completely overwhelmed with cats and kittens and underwhelmed with families seeking to adopt them. Until this year, we have held our own and have maintained our adoption numbers in spite of the challenges of the economy. However the downturn appears to have finally caught up with the animal rescue world.

 Like other groups, we have experienced the continued increase in families who have had to give up their beloved pets due to loss of job, loss of home, or inability to make ends meet. On the other end, adoptions have been somewhat slower than we had hoped. Several cats have been with us for well over a year, and dogs like Chorro, who we consider highly adoptable continue to reside at A.D.O.P.T.. This of course translates into our inability to accept other desperate animals who face euthanasia at the many overcrowded pounds within Chicagoland and beyond.

The animals most at risk are those who are elderly, ill, or in deplorable physical condition….dogs like Mookie, a 13- year-old Huskie-Shepherd, who we rescued from Gary Animal Control in February.  Mookie was the Valentine’s Day gift that we gave ourselves!  We knew when we took Mookie that it would be very difficult to find a home for her, but we also knew that she did not deserve her last memory to be that of being in a cold concrete run protected from the blustery winds by nothing but a tarp loosely secured to a barbed wire fence.

Like many dogs who show up at animal control, Mookie was in bad shape. It appeared that her coat was covered in a sticky syrup that took several baths to remove. She was suffering from severe arthritis and chronic pain. Plus, she was diagnosed with heartworm.

In spite of her obviously hard life, she trusted us and allowed us to care for her. Her kennel at our shelter was surely the most welcoming place she had ever known and her own dog bed had to be the most comfortable place she had ever been allowed to rest her tired old body.

 Mookie became comfortable at the shelter, and soon we came to realize that A.D.O.P.T. would be her forever home, and WE would be her forever family. Unfortunately our time with Mookie was cut short by the identification of inoperable tumors believed to be cancerous. While it is never easy to lose a beloved family member, we knew it was best to let Mookie cross over the Rainbow Bridge, to be free of her physical burdens and finally be allowed to run carefree and play with others who arrived before her. Mookie is one of several animals this year who have left pawprints on our hearts and will live forever in our memories.

We at A.D.O.P.T. believe that all animals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity….and we know that you do as well. We also believe that older animals are just as worthy of permanent loving homes as puppies or kittens. Fortunately, we have been very successful in placing older animals, even those having special medical need, like Casper, a 10-year-old Cockapoo with a severe heart murmur. We are very grateful that there are families who are able to handle such animals and make them part of their lives.  If you are able to open your heart to a special-needs or elderly animal, there are several waiting just for you at our shelter.  There can be no more meaningful a holiday gift, than the gift of life to a homeless animal and the true feeling of joy that you yourself will receive from making such a lifesaving commitment.

 While older animals pose adoption challenges, sometimes it is even difficult for us to find homes for younger animals. Catiana and Casey were two such kittens. Both very cute and playful, why would they be difficult to place? They both have FIV. We recognized the challenge we faced by accepting them into our adoption program, but also knew these sweet kittens had very little chance of escaping euthanasia otherwise. Our roll of the dice in accepting them resulted in a win! The kittens were adopted and went home together to enjoy the rest of their days.

We do recognize that people are concerned about the longevity of cats afflicted with illnesses such as FIV, but these cats can live normal healthy lives with families who are observant of their needs. 

This year, with limited resources but plenty of goals, we have been focused on adoption and retention, expansion of our spay-neuter and medical initiatives, and implementation of enrichment programs. These three programs lie at the core of our mission and vision.

With adoptions being down, and give-ups on the rise this year, we have had to get creative in putting new programs in place and expanding existing ones. While we have had an off-site program in place for many years, this year we expanded the program by adding more off-site events and partners in order to secure greater visibility for our animals and our organization. We have established consistent visibility in the local newspaper with feature articles, and regular submissions of the “Pet of the Week.” Our new-and-improved facebook page ( helps further to promote those animals most in need of adoption. And, most recently, we have had an outpouring of volunteers to help us keep our Petfinder listings current, provide compelling stories and updates on our animals, and post eye-catching photos, sure to capture the attention of potential adopters!

Our Blessed Bonds temporary foster care program, which became part of A.D.O.P.T. in January, has kept over 100 animals out of the animal welfare system this year alone. This lifeline provides resources to families in need of assistance with pet-related housing concerns, and temporary foster care for animals whose caretakers are not able to care for them due to illness, job loss, economic hardship, or other temporary crisis. Typically, once the crisis subsides, these animals are reunited with their families rather than destined for re-homing through the animal welfare system. A win-win for all!

Our spay-neuter initiatives continue to expand. In addition to our own animals, this year more than 2,000 surgeries were performed on animals from other rescues or as part of our low-income low-cost spay-neuter program. Literally tens of thousands of lives have been saved through the prevention of unwanted births.

Fortunately we continue to expand the network of veterinary specialists we call upon to handle the more extraordinary medical needs that we encounter. Charlie, a five-year-old Shi Tzu mix, is one such dog who recently benefited from this network. Charlie along with his brother M.J. was surrendered to A.D.O.P.T. because their family could no longer care for them. When he arrived, Charlie walked with a limp which became progressively worse over a short period of time. X-ray and CAT scan revealed that Charlie was suffering from a back problem requiring disc surgery. This brave little soldier underwent the surgery mid-November and is on the road to recovery. He is regaining his strength and energy and is expected to make a full recovery. Charlie is currently looking for a special home for the holidays!!  Could this be your home?

Over the years we have come to excel in the in-house medical care we provide our animals. Whether an eye or ear infection, kennel cough, upper respiratory, or even the treatment and care of puppies infected with the deadly parvovirus, our medical team is top-notch and comes to the rescue. It is because of their skills and responsiveness that we are able to handle such medically challenging situation. And it is because of your support that we can provide our animals with the team of professionals who care for them.

On the other hand, this year, we have come to recognize our shortfalls when it comes to behaviorally challenged animals. Sometimes the issue is breed-related and other times it is because the animal has been at our shelter for longer than appropriate. Our animal caregivers are truly compassionate and sensitive to the needs of all of our animals, but occasionally it becomes evident that more specialized help than we can provide is needed. This year we have learned that early intervention is indeed the key in deterring the development of behaviors that could deem an animal unadoptable.

 We learned this very difficult lesson from a boy named Rusty. We did not intend to take Rusty into our adoption program, but when we went to a high-kill shelter to rescue another dog, we could not leave Rusty behind, knowing he was scheduled to die that afternoon. He was a shy Shepherd mix who slowly came out of his shell. He seemed to be a wonderful boy. But sadly, week after week, he was passed over for adoption. Apparently there was nothing considered particularly special about him. But those of us who knew Rusty felt differently about him. After several months at the shelter, Rusty was becoming notably more anxious and stressed, reaching the point of being considered a high-risk dog who would require a special home and experienced handler. Homeopathic therapies and behavioral training sessions were provided to Rusty but his stress continued to escalate and he became a danger to people and to himself. This was a very difficult time not only for Rusty but for all of our volunteers and staff who came to love this special boy. In spite of all efforts made to help him, we could not turn him around. It was very tough for us all to let him go but in our hearts we knew that once he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, his spirit would be freed from the scars of his past. Although Rusty has left us, his memory remains with us and his story has inspired us to work harder and to implement structured programs to help others like him.

So we do the very best we can. We have used all of our losses of this year to propel us forward and make us better. In memory of Rusty, we have created THE RUSTY REHAB FUND, to support the development of an animal enrichment program which, in a relatively short time, has produced remarkable results. We have initiated a supervised aromatherapy program and installed a shelter-wide sound system which have significantly reduced the stress in our kennels and cat areas. Dogs who are behaviorally challenged or simply in need of manners are able to attend training sessions at a local dog training facility. Others are able to attend a local doggie daycare when a break from shelter life is warranted. We are very much in need of a professional dog trainer on staff but with limited resources, our staff and volunteers have done a remarkable job working with our dogs.

 Every year, thanks to your help and support we are able to accomplish so much for the animals, but there is always so much more to do. Next year we want to expand our animal enrichment programs, our spay-neuter program, and our animal care initiatives. And of course we want to be able to accept into our adoption program more animals than we could help this year, particularly those having special needs. The needs of animals like Gabe, a Maltese puppy who required heart surgery to save his young life, do push our budget to the limit, but we know we cannot let such animals simply die. With surgery, they will have the opportunity to live normal lives in loving homes. Why would we not give them this chance?

All of these animals depend on our help and support. Whether the bottle-fed kittens or the overweight senior Beagle, the FIV cat or the enthusiastic Black Lab, without you, none of these voiceless creatures could be rescued and placed into loving homes. With anticipation of another challenging year, I ask you to join us in saving lives, one animal at a time, by supporting them with the most generous donation that you can possibly provide. As you know, we stretch every dollar as far as we can, but often we still come up short of meeting our ambitious goals when it comes to saving lives. 

If you are looking for a special way to make a difference this holiday season, you can definitely do so by supporting the animals of A.D.O.P.T. and providing the most generous gift that you can afford to ensure their continued care. Your gift will truly make a difference in the lives of the many dogs and cats who come through our doors every day. Their lives depend on you!!


Sandy Boston
A.D.O.P.T. Pet Shelter

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