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Article updated: 7/14/2011 5:08 AM

Grayslake animal shelter carries on without power

By Mick Zawislak

With every door and window open, big fans blowing, mild temperatures and low humidity, it was tolerable Wednesday afternoon inside the Save-A-Pet adoption center near Grayslake.

But with the heat Tuesday it was a different story, staffers say, and it could get ugly by this weekend if the power is not restored.

"The care hasn't wavered," said Marc Portugal, development manager for the not-for-profit, no-kill shelter on Fairfield Road north of Route 60. "Every animal has been fed on schedule and dogs are getting walked on a regular basis. It's just harder to do the daily work."

The shelter has been closed since power went out Monday, putting adoptions on hold because the public can't be allowed inside.

And since then, four more animals have been added to the population of about 180 cats and 70 dogs, including a dog that was abandoned on the doorstep.

They are probably warm and confused, but the animals are doing better than expected, Portugal said.

"They're holding up. You can never underestimate their strength of spirit," he said.

That also goes for staff, volunteers and supporters who have rallied to provide portable generators, the gasoline to run them and food and water for the animals.

The outpouring came in response to a Facebook post by the shelter for gasoline, and has spread through a grapevine of


In addition to the care staff of 15, hands-on help has come from dozens of volunteers who have been donating more time since the power went out.

"We wondered if we could help you," Jan Rhein told staffers who greeted her as she entered a conference room turned supply area stacked with bottled water, food and gasoline.

She and her husband, Wayne, also handed over a $25 check.

"We'll do whatever we can do -- clean up poop, whatever," she said.

Earlier, Elizabeth Simmons of Hainesville toting her kids, Hunter, 18 months and Wyatt, 4, dropped off a container of gasoline.

"We'll need it," Portugal said.

Gasoline is at a premium for the shelter as the old main generator is out of commission and would cost more to repair than replace, Portugal explained.

Three portable generators, on loan from supporters, are providing power for about a dozen fans and for refrigerators to cool medications needed by many of the animals. But the hallways remain dark and the air conditioning silent.

The need now is for fuel, water, dog and cat food (preferably Friskies, Pedigree or Science Diet brands) and Tidy Cat brand litter. Gift cards for gasoline or big box stores also are welcome.

"The generosity to keep our doors open comes from donations and relationships, we can never have enough of either one," Portugal said.

There is no hard target on when the power will be restored. Teig Evans, a member of the kennel and maintenance staff, who gets text messages from Com Ed, was updated Wednesday afternoon.

"They're shooting for Friday but it might be as long as Sunday," he said.

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