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posted: 9/28/2012 8:10 AM

Benefit aims to help owners keep their pets in stressful times

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By Linda Kane
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When Gina learned she needed a total hysterectomy, she knew she needed help.

Likewise, Dan needed some time to recover from hip surgery.

And Jason, too, needed assistance, as he was moving back to Illinois from Florida.

Gina, Dan and Jason all shared a common need during their stressful times: someone to help them care for their pets.

That's where Blessed Bonds comes in.

Blessed Bonds, a nonprofit program dedicated to preserving the human-animal bond, offers foster care to pet owners temporarily unable to care for their pets. The program has been a subsidiary of Animals Deserving of Proper Treatment in Naperville for almost two years.

Blessed Bonds Director Renee Hix Mays wants people to know the "importance and uniqueness" of the program that aids pet owners dealing with crises such as illness, hospitalization, foreclosure and eviction.

"The shelters are full enough," Hix Mays said. "We don't need animals given up when it's not necessary."

Hix Mays said the program currently has a list of 30 to 40 fosters, about 15 of whom constantly open their homes to needy pets for up to two months, sometimes longer. In 2011, she said, Blessed Bonds helped 55 to 65 cats and dogs.

"We'd like to see (the program grow) bigger," she said. "We'd like to help more people.

"We have some things we'd like to do -- get more help from boarding places and veterinarians, because a lot of times we cannot respond quickly enough. If we could find some kennels that we could make a deal with, we would pay them something (to help us)."

To further the foster-based program, Blessed Bonds will sponsor its first major fundraiser, Furry Friends Fall-Tober Fest, from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora.

"(We have reserved a) beautiful banquet room, which has room for a minimum of 100 people, and even a private outdoor area," Hix Mays said.

The fundraiser will feature a buffet lunch, raffle, silent auction and music by Phoenixx.

"The Roundhouse has been fabulous," she said. "We're (even) developing a significantly different menu geared toward the season."

After the buffet lunch, the raffle and silent auction will feature electronics, Kindles, sports items and cooking items, among other things. An award-winning artist also has offered to paint an original pet portrait for one winning bidder.

"We've had a tremendous response with (donations)," Hix Mays said.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $15 for children ages 12 and younger. Purchase tickets in advance on the Blessed Bonds fundraiser page at adoptpetshelter.org or by emailing Hix Mays at blessedbonds@gmail.com. Checks should be made out to Blessed Bonds.

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