The Uplifting Story of Save-A-Pet

The Uplifting Story of Save-A-Pet

Once upon a time, I lived in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. It was there that I embarked on a volunteer opportunity that forever changed my life. To this very day, memories I spent caring for the homeless animals at Save-A-Pet shelter still resonate and it’s for that very reason that I continue to channel my time and support to uplifting their work.

With a mission of providing a no-kill shelter to homeless pets, Save-A-Pet opened their doors in 1972.

Located just northwest of Chicago in Grayslake, Illinois, Save-A-Pet strives to find loving forever homes for all their rescues. “Our staff treats each cat and dog with respect, dignity, and compassion regardless of behavior or medical needs, their age, size, or breed,” explains Dominique Allion, President of the Board of Directors.

Dominique started volunteering in 1996 and quickly learned that fundraising, a never-ending task, was the key to the shelter’s survival. She quickly got involved with raising money, working on auctions, and soliciting business and donors for support. In addition to her work as a volunteer, fundraiser, and editorial efforts behind the shelter’s publicity and news, she took on the role of leading the shelter’s board. But like many of those behind the efforts at Save-A-Pet, her contributions don’t end there. “I am also an adopter of animals that they rescued and were special needs, both dogs and cats,” explains Dominique. “Thinking that they wouldn’t have had a chance and would have been euthanized had they not been at Save-A-Pet is devastating.”

Save-A-Pet, like many rescue organizations, celebrates all their pets, the impact they make and the never-ending, heartfelt success stories.

“Recently, two of our long-time dogs were selected by K9’s for Veterans as support dogs for veterans,” says Dominique. “They get matched to veterans and then together go through training.” She also shared a story about how an adopted cat made a difference in the life of the family’s elderly father. “When he lost his wife, he went home to live with one of his adult children. Having always been a dog person, he wasn’t too interested in the feline species, but the cat and he ended up connecting at a different level. They could often be found napping together and the cat helped him deal with all the feelings associated with the loss of his wife.”

Of course, there are hundreds of untold stories of the trials and tribulations pets face before arriving at the shelter. “One of our incoming dogs, Emmit needed double hip surgery, which is an expensive procedure, so not one that is often done,” she said. “This means that most vets don’t perform them, and we needed to find one that could do it.” The good news is, he’s currently recuperating in a foster home and is ready to get adopted.

Another one of their longtime residents was a cat named Madonna. According to Dominique, she loved cats but was wary of people. This will happen with many animals who are abused or neglected. Thankfully, the staff found a way to help Madonna overcome her shyness and recently she was adopted by a loving family.

“Vinny was a long-time resident pit bull, who selected his human friends carefully,” says Dominique. “He then had a medical emergency. He had to undergo an immediate splenectomy (removal of the spleen and a tumor) to save his life. When a call for a foster home went out, a compassionate couple stepped up and came with their dog to visit him several times. Once in their home, he slowly let down his barriers and finally had a chance to be a dog with no care in the world, just able to enjoy being loved. They have since then adopted him.”

Some of their fundraising and awareness events include concerts, 5k walks, auctions, adventure games, and cocktail affairs. But they also think outside the box.

“One event that we had a couple of years when we were ‘overloaded’ with animals was a special PJ adoption day,” shares Dominique. “It was a roll out of bed and come to Save-A-Pet when we switched time in the spring. All staff could wear PJs at work and all potential adopters showing up in their PJs got a reduced adoption fee.”

“Our staff and our volunteers are passionate about our mission,” says Dominique. “You hear a lot about no-kill but there are few organizations that embrace all cats and dogs regardless of their needs and where humane euthanasia is only practiced when they no longer have a quality of life, meaning that whatever vet care is provided can’t alleviate their pain or when vets did as much as they could but can no longer help them.”

Save-A-Pet’s mission is for all pets, not only the easily adoptable ones but those that have special needs, expensive medical or behavioral conditions. “Our staff’s dedication and success to finding forever homes whether through adoption or at times through our foster program, for our least adoptable animals as well as for hospice care, are just amazing.”

The mission of helping all animals find homes requires a dedicated staff, compassionate volunteers, loving adopters, and the generosity of donors. “We are completely funded by private donations and do not receive any governmental support,” explains Dominique. “Financial support is what allows us to continue our mission and our level of care for all pets.”

“We embrace them all, never discriminating,” Dominique reminds. “Even if a cat or dog has a limited time left on this earth and has a good quality of life with or without medical care, they live out their lives, loved and cared for until it is time for them to cross the Rainbow Bridge.”

To donate, help save an animal or adopt one into your home, visit the Save-A-Pet website.

Images Courtesy of Save-A-Pet

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