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A.D.O.P.T. stresses 3R’s: Rescue, Rehabilitate, Rehome - Part II of a III-Part Series

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TribLocal Aurora
By Linda Kane, A.D.O.P.T. volunteer
November 24, 2010

Wilbur, a basset hound, was one of A.D.O.P.T.'s special needs animals.

Part 2 of 3: What We DO

Animals receive extraordinary, compassionate care

He arrived as a stray, a happy-go-lucky basset hound, somewhere between the age of three and five years.

He was always at the kennel door with his toy in his mouth, as if to say, “Hi.” And even when he began to feel poorly, he still had that spark, said Chris Stirn, Animals Deserving of Proper Treatment (A.D.O.P.T.) medical services coordinator.

However, Wilbur became sick while awaiting adoption.

And so, “we transported him up to Woodstock Animal Hospital where they did a scope of his nose,” Stirn said. “We did a lot to find out what was wrong with him. Unfortunately, he had an inoperable tumor.”

Today the “Wilbur Fund,” named in his memory, continues to help special-needs animals, those whose needs exceed what A.D.O.P.T. can do in-house.

Today, another dog, Preston, must have double hip surgery. The “Wilbur Fund” is there for him.

“Wilbur [represents] what the shelter is about,” Stirn said. “We felt that in his memory, we wanted to be able to tell his story and help other animals.”

Extraordinary and compassionate care for animals, including those with special needs, is a big part of A.D.O.P.T.’s mission.

“Regardless of the situation, animals that come here are treated with compassion by everybody,” Stirn said. “It is such a warm, welcoming place. Everyone cares so much about the animals.”

Spay/Neuter Initiative

A.D.O.P.T. also focuses on other medical services, such as spaying and neutering. All animals are spayed, neutered, microchipped and vaccinated, Stirn said.

“We also treat any illness they might have,” she said. In addition, the shelter does dental cleanings, eye surgeries and growth removals.

Every Friday, A.D.O.P.T. veterinarian Dr. Linda Kopija spays and neuters for rescue groups such as Aurora Animal Control, Starfish and Fur Angels. “We have rescue groups coming from as far away as Wisconsin,” Stirn said. “Our goal is to spay and neuter as many animals as we can.”

Adoptions

Also part of A.D.O.P.T.’s mission is “to place animals into loving and permanent homes.” Clients who come to adopt an animal fill out a short application; they are then placed with a dog or cat specialist who counsels them regarding the “best fit for their homelife, lifestyle, children and other pets.

“We want the match to last forever. We want our animals to thrive,” said cat counselor Wendy Weis.

Dog counselor Laura Vivas agrees.

“It is a matching process, and we have the people’s needs and the animals’ needs high on our priority list,” Vivas said. “It might take a little bit longer to find that match, but it’s all for the good of the adopters and the animals.”

With dog adoptions, all family members must meet with the animal and the adoption counselor, Vivas said. In addition, shelter officials check fencing and veterinarian references. “We are that extra set of eyes to be sure the dog will be as safe as it can be,” Vivas said.

Both Weis and Vivas said they spend about 30 minutes after the client has chosen the animal to be sure it’s a “good fit.”

“I’ll go over all the paperwork; I’ll talk about how to transition the kitty from our food to their food,” Weis said. “I’ll talk about signs of stress because cats can get very stressed out. Integrating into a new household can be like you and I experiencing a death in the family.”

Adoption counselors also make follow-up calls at approximately the 30-day mark. Weis said that she gives clients her cell number and email so they can reach out with any possible questions. “We want [the clients and their animals] to get off to the best possible start,” Weis said.

“It’s a big deal to have a successful adoption,” Vivas said. “It’s part of our mission to get that animal in the home it should be in for the rest of its life.”

Both Weis and Vivas said they get a lot of “alumni emails.” Adopters will send pictures of their animals. “I can’t tell you how valuable it is for the people at the shelter to know that those animals are happy,” Vivas said. “That’s why we work so hard. That happy ending makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Humane Education

Finally, A.D.O.P.T. strives to educate the public about animal welfare through day camps and school visits. “I took some dogs to day camp just to educate the children about animal care and responsibility,” Weis said.

Stirn added that she often shows children a tray of worms and ticks as part of her presentation. “The kids love it,” Stirn said. “They are really responsive and have a million questions. And we get a tremendous response from parents about how much their children gained at the camp.

“We do a really good job with the resources we have. I would love to have the resources to do more.”

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