When Mona was 9 weeks old, the Siberian husky puppy's owner had a decision to make: euthanize the sick dog or find her a home that could afford to pay for the veterinary treatment she undoubtedly would need.
She chose the latter, a decision that not only could save Mona's life, but countless other pets through the creation of Mona's Miracle Fund, a foundation to help animals with special needs.
The chain of events that led to the foundation's creation began when Mona's owner, a Waukegan resident, reached out to the Animal Education and Rescue (AER) in Libertyville for help with Mona, who was suffering from multiple daily seizures and an uncontrollable bladder.
As a nonprofit organization, AER didn't have money to help, but its founder, Sandy Wisniewski, used her Facebook page to spread the word on Mona's predicament. Within hours she received over 40 responses telling her to save the dog. Shortly after, money started piling in.
"I couldn't believe it, donations came in from around the country and all over the world," Wisniewski said.
Mona was scheduled today to undergo surgery, paid for with the help of supporters who raised more than $5,200, with donations continuing to flood in.
One of Mona's biggest fans, Gene Risner, volunteered to foster Mona in his Indiana home for the two weeks leading up to the surgery.
"Anytime I get the opportunity to help out an organization with a donation or whatever I can, I do it," Risner said. "I always feel for the underdog that no one else wants, that no one else believes in."
Risner helped raise money by raffling White Sox tickets, donated by a Lake County couple, to his friends, giving the proceeds to Mona's Miracle Fund. Fodrak's restaurant in Libertyville helped by donating 15 percent of its profits from one day of business. A group of students donated $500 raised from selling "pupcakes" at their middle school. Wisniewski received a $1,700 check in the mail with a note simply saying, "This is for Mona's medical expenses."
Because there were more donations than needed for Mona's care, Wisniewski decided to create Mona's Miracle Fund to help other animals in need.
Mona, she said, is improving, and no longer has daily seizures. But she still has a long road ahead of her.
"This is the toughest business a person can be in if they love animals," Wisniewski said. "It's very bipolar, very up, very down, but having a vast number of individuals banding together to help one tiny, helpless puppy, you have to think this is a pretty amazing world."