If compassion was all it took to place every cuddly kitten or playful pup into a permanent home, Waifs and Strays Animal Rescue would have it easy.
The all-volunteer group has plenty of care and concern for homeless animals. Even so, the organization also needs volunteers, foster homes and donations for veterinarian and food bills.
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"We are a small shelter, so it is hard for us to get our word out," rescue volunteer Donna Finch said.
Small but diligent would describe the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
This year the group placed 358 cats and 92 dogs in forever homes.
"We always talk to adoptees several times to make sure it is a proper fit before we place an animal," founder Laura Deibel said. "This morning we had a black-and-white, medium-hair cat adopted into such a nice family with two little boys."
Animals find themselves in a need of rescue for a variety of circumstances, including stray, abandonment and owner surrenders. Sometimes an owner's life or residence changes and the new situation will not allow for a pet.
"We have more people who would like to keep their original pet but are going into foreclosure and losing their home," Deibel said. "We try to work with these people to place their pet into another family."
Sometimes a new apartment does not allow pets. Sometimes the loss of a job forces an owner to surrender his or her pet because they have to cut all expenses.
When a pet comes into Waifs and Strays, each receives full vet services including spay/neutering, microchipping, worming, flea, tick and heartworm prevention. The cost to adopt an animal is $150, which offsets some of the medical expenses. Volunteers care and socialize each animal until they are adopted into their forever home.
"We found it best to keep kittens for 10 weeks so they get more social time with their litter mates," Deibel said. "We found these kittens are more social down the road."
The extra time allows the organization to gauge the animal's needs. Pets, like people, have unique preferences and personalities, and it is important to match a rescued pet with the right owner.
"We only take people with good references and those qualified to take care of a pet," Finch said. "Some pets are better for an older person; others will fit in better with a younger family with lots of action."
Deibel, who has a license for the rescue, is a vet tech at an animal hospital. Fundraising is the group's most pressing need. With many people pitching in, the group has eight regular volunteers who are the backbone of the operation. The group allows a parent to volunteer with their child.
"The number one objective of our organization is to correctly place animals into loving homes," Deibel said. "We are limited to smaller animals and those that we know can be family-placed quickly, because time at a kennel is limited."
The organization also houses animals in foster homes and at two pet-related businesses in Lisle.
All Pet Pantry, 4910 S. Main St., sells a healthy line of U.S.-made pet food that contains neither artificial colors nor corn or wheat fillers. The store offers free delivery throughout DuPage County with a purchase more than $30.
"We are a small family-owned business with your pets' best interest in mind," said owner Tom Thornton, who opened the store in the spring. "We sell products and supplies that keep pets healthy."
The store also offers a pet care and dog walking service called Snaggle Foot. Details are at SnaggleFoot-Lisle.com.
Waifs and Strays find that pets placed at All Pet Pantry get plenty of socializing in the store from customers. Thornton has had experience with rescued pets of his own.
Right next door, at 4912 S. Main St., the Hand-N-Paw grooming business has a few adoptable kittens from Waifs and Strays. The store services both cats and dogs that need a trim, wash or nails done. The business opened in 2006 and has weekend hours.
It also offers a do-it-yourself wash, where customers may use different size stainless steel tubs and proper drying equipment at reasonable prices to accommodate pets of all sizes.
Contact owner Beth Hand at handnpaw.net for details. Hand offers a free grooming with each adopted pet.
"If a pet looks good, they feel good," Hand said.
With the holidays coming, Deibel said the organization prefers that pets are not given as a gift. She offers an idea to offset that potential problem.
"We suggest a person go out and buy a litter box and some toys in preparation for an animal and give that as the gift to the person so that they might pick out their own pet," Deibel suggests. "A person needs to be committed to an animal."
Since 2009, Waifs and Strays Animal Rescue has been busy on both the receiving and giving end of the rescue operation. To reach the organization, go to waifsandstraysrescue.com or email email@example.com.
• Joan Broz writes about Lisle regularly for Neighbor.