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‘Marley & Me’ author helps raise adoption awareness

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Daily Herald
By Marco Santana, Daily Herald Staff
A.D.O.P.T. Pet Shelter volunteers with kittens at Hollywood Palms

If you ask John Grogan, the abundance of Labrador retriever rescue shelters across the country is no coincidence. The breed is a feisty one and, if families can’t handle them, they end up in shelters.

Grogan owned one of the most famous, feisty Labradors, Marley - the subject of his best-selling book and movie, “Marley & Me.”

On Sunday, during a stop in Naperville to promote his new children’s book, “Marley and the Kittens,” Grogan told fans at the Hollywood Palms Cinema that the mischief and humor seen in the film takes the focus off the other end of raising a Labrador - that the dogs are sometimes taken in by less-than-patient families.

“That’s the sad understory of ‘Marley & Me’” Grogan said. “There are a lot of dogs like him whose families gave up on them and they give up or drop them off at the shelter. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the dog. It’s just the wrong fit.”

In the film adaptation of Grogan’s novel, Marley is seen often getting into hijinx and mischief that tries the patience of his owner.

Grogan said the real-life Marley was just as trying, but he had a sense of responsibility to the dog. He praised the theater for tying in his appearance with a visit from two local animal shelters.

“A lot of these dogs deserve a second chance,” he said. “With the right family, they make a fantastic pet.”

Midwest Labrador retriever Rescue brought several of their pets to the event and set up in the theater.

As an homage to the children’s book, the group Animals Deserving Of Proper Treatment set up shop with several kittens across the lobby. The privately funded, Naperville-based organization offers pets for adoption but also offers spayings and neuterings for the pets of low-income families. ADOPT also periodically offers spaying and neutering services to area clinics that do not have their own means of doing so.

The exposure offered at Sunday’s event is imperative, said Wendy Weis, a member of the group’s board of directors.

“Any local event we can get to, we try to do that,” she said. “It’s a way to bring more visibility to adoption. The more exposure or funding we get, the more we can help the community’s animals.”

Naperville resident Kristina Moers volunteers for the group and had Grogan sign her copy of “Marley and the Kittens,” a short story based on an actual event in which Grogan found some kittens on the side of the road and ended up adopting them.

Moers has been with the group for about six months and said the book gave the organization an unique chance to take their cats out to the public. Usually, she said, events are centered around dogs.

“The fact that it’s ‘Marley and the Kittens’ gives both organizations a chance to bring their pets out,” she said. “We don’t usually get that much exposure for our kittens because we can’t take them anywhere.”

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