Megan Glidewell, 13, has been helping her family foster dogs for the last four months through her aunt's organization, Grahamville Rescue and Sanctuary. Some dogs stay with the family for as little as 24 hours, others up to six weeks. Glidewell said her job as a foster sister is to walk the dogs, play with them and get them ready for adoption.
"We have to make sure they're getting the proper care," Glidewell said. "Make sure they're getting the nutrition they need."
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Glidewell and other volunteers with Grahamville Rescue and Sanctuary met prospective pet owners and foster families Sunday during the second day of the Chicago Pet Show expo at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles.
The Chicago Pet Show started as a way to connect pet rescue agencies with people interested in volunteering or adopting animals and animal-oriented businesses with pet owners in need of services. Executive Producer Peggy Ruh said 50 exhibitors gathered for the first show and 5,000 people came through. Last year, the number of exhibitors grew to 128 and crowds surged to 7,500.
"It's taken on a life of its own," Ruh said. "Our goal is to bring together a community of people that love animals as much as we do."
Out of the 160 exhibitors in this year's show, about 45 were rescue organizations. The two-day event had almost constant demonstrations in two different sections of the main fairgrounds building. Animals included reptiles, ducks, llamas, cats, dogs and rats in a species variety Ruh said she thinks is unmatched by similar expos.
Glidewell's mom, Angi, said when her family fosters the animals, they help them learn how to be with people and teach them basic rules. All the dogs from Grahamville are pulled from high-kill shelters in Missouri.
"Our fosters take them from mill dogs to family dogs," Angi Glidewell said. "So that their trauma is over, basically."
Emily Grace Leshin, 8, of Pingree Grove, posed for a picture next to an alligator, let a bird perch on her arm, and fed barn animals from her hand. Her dad, Ed Leshin, said his family was not looking for any new pets but heard about the expo from a friend.
"I knew the kids would love the animals," Leshin said.
And based on Emily's face, her dad was right.