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A.D.O.P.T.’s Blessed Bonds finds temporary homes for displaced pets

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TribLocal Aurora
By Linda Kane, A.D.O.P.T. volunteer
March 17, 2011

Peaches, a 3 1/2-year-old tortoise shell kitty, is one of the pets displaced by a January 24 fire at the Joshua Arms senior living facility in Joliet. A.D.O.P.T.’s Blessed Bonds found Peaches a temporary home (photo courtesy of L. Harper).

Kelly Curtis zigzags the state for her job with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (L.S.S.I.): from Rockford in the north to Taylorville in the south. But one lucky day, January 24, Curtis’s work took her to Joliet.

“It was the only day I was scheduled there the whole month,” Curtis said. “I kind of felt like it was a God-thing because what were the chances of me being there [at that time]?”

Curtis, the assistant to L.S.S.I.’s Property Manager, travels almost daily from her home in Warrenville to 20 program sites owned or managed by LSSI, one of which is Joshua Arms, an affordable senior housing and supported living facility in Joliet.

On January 24, a fire at Joshua Arms displaced 212 residents.

And 11 cats and 1 dog.

“My ‘wheels’ started turning immediately because I was thinking about what we were going to do,” Curtis said. “My point of reference immediately went to the kittens we adopted from A.D.O.P.T. [Pet Shelter in Naperville]. That night I called and left A.D.O.P.T. a message.

“I made another call to DuPage Animal Shelter [D.A.S.] in Wheaton and left a message. [The next day], lucky for me, I was able to get the D.A.S.’s director who said, ‘Have you tried Blessed Bonds?’”

Curtis said she had never heard of Blessed Bonds but decided to give them a try.

“We called a number of other places; some never called us back,” Curtis said. “But Blessed Bonds was right there right away.”

Good luck strikes again.

At the beginning of the year, Blessed Bonds, a program that helps animal owners find temporary homes for their pets during times of crisis, joined forces with A.D.O.P.T.

Curtis talked with Renee Hix-Mays, Blessed Bonds’ daily operations director. “[Hix-Mays] said, ‘We can help you. Don’t worry about food or anything. Just bring [the animals] over,’ Curtis said. “We were very lucky to find [Blessed Bonds].”

Thus, two days after the fire, “on January 26 by 11 a.m., we had 11 cats and 1 dog here [in our intake room at A.D.O.P.T.],” Hix-Mays said.

However, luck momentarily ran out.

The original plan to get the residents back in their homes within 7-10 days became delayed as smoke and water damage wreaked havoc on the facility’s electrical system. No power meant no heat, no refrigeration…no home.

And because A.D.O.P.T. needed its intake room, animals, particularly the cats, had to go to foster care.

Shelter volunteer Wendy Weis, herself a cat owner, offered to take resident Francine Cosgrove’s 3 ½-year-old tortoise-shell kitty, Peaches.

“[Peaches is] great,” Weis said. “She’s the perfect little love bug.”

Weis said she thinks Peaches misses her “mom” but she has adjusted well to her temporary home. “Peaches has her own room in my house,” Weis said. “But [all the kitties] play pawsies together under the door. It’s very cute.”

Weis, who calls Cosgrove at least twice a week to give her a report on Peaches’ well being, said she also has made arrangements for Peaches and Cosgrove to visit each other.

“I think it was that personal follow-up that helped her ease the pain of the situation,” Weis said. “It’s bad enough to be displaced, but to not understand what will happen to your pet adds a lot of tension.”

Cosgrove, who “misses Peaches terribly,” has high praise for Weis and Blessed Bonds. “Wendy is a wonderful girl. She’s been just great,” she said. “They’re a wonderful organization, and I would always recommend them to anybody.”

Another A.D.O.P.T. volunteer, Chris Blind, who has five cats of her own, is also fostering two of the displaced kitties, Godfrey and Parusia.

“They’ve been fantastic,” Blind said. “They’ve adjusted well. They still look around to find their owner, but they’re very friendly, very affectionate.”

Although she says she gets attached to her adult fosters, Blind said, “I would hope that somebody would be as generous to do this for me if I had a situation like this.”

And Curtis, who continues her travels for L.S.S.I, said, “We are very grateful that organizations like Blessed Bonds and A.D.O.P.T. stepped up.

“I just couldn’t believe our luck!”

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