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updated: 3/7/2013 8:28 AM

West Suburban Humane Society plans 'Paint Your Pet' fundraiser

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  • The West Suburban Humane Society in Downers Grove has about 350 volunteers like Cathy Butler, walking Jake, a dog up for adoption.

      The West Suburban Humane Society in Downers Grove has about 350 volunteers like Cathy Butler, walking Jake, a dog up for adoption.
    Courtesy of the West Suburban Humane Society

  • West Suburban Humane Society volunteers like Laura Lithio, playing with George, a dog available for adoption, tend to animals in the shelter and work to reunite owners with their lost pets.

      West Suburban Humane Society volunteers like Laura Lithio, playing with George, a dog available for adoption, tend to animals in the shelter and work to reunite owners with their lost pets.
    Courtesy of the West Suburban Humane Society

 
 

The West Suburban Humane Society's mission was simpler when it began more than 40 years ago as a way to reconnect lost pets and their loving owners.

But over the years, it became clear there was more work to do: Stray pets needed homes as well. Volunteers began working with animal control officers to locate the owners of pets that had been picked up, and eventually began sheltering those they could not reunite with their humans.

Today, the West Suburban Humane Society operates a shelter in Downers Grove that typically is at its capacity, housing 25 dogs and 60 cats. The animals' health needs are tended to before they join the ranks of the 600 adopted annually from the shelter.

And still, the humane society works to reunite pets and owners by maintaining a database with information about pets and owners, by offering free pet identification tags and by implanting adopted pets with identification microchips.

To support its efforts to care for animals in need, the West Suburban Humane Society is counting on those who already know the value of bringing a pet home to love.

The Paint Your Pet fundraiser invites pet owners to partake in an art lesson that will let them show off how much they love their dogs and cats. With photos of their pets in hand, participants will get step-by-step instructions in painting portraits of their furry friends.

The evening includes appetizers, a raffle and a wine pull and begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at Bottle and Bottega, 498 Crescent Blvd., Glen Ellyn.

Today, Executive Director Carolyn Mossberger tells us more about the West Suburban Humane Society.

Q. What is your organization's mission?

A. The West Suburban Humane Society is dedicated to operating a premiere animal shelter for the purpose of finding safe, permanent and compatible homes to adopt domestic dogs and cats. We are committed to educating and encouraging the public to humanely care for dogs and cats.

Q. How do you work toward accomplishing that goal?

A. Advocacy: We promote the humane care of dogs and cats by working with government agencies and other agencies to promote the humane care of animals.

Care: We strive to be the pre-eminent provider of animal care, working with high-quality veterinarians to provide the most appropriate medical treatment for nonterminal conditions of cats and dogs in our care.

Further, we develop innovative practices, such as working with reputable trainers in the area to ensure every animal in our care receives the best total care before being adopted by the most compatible owner.

Education: We educate our staff, volunteers and members of the community on proper pet health care and safety. We provide ample information and constant support to our adoptive families and act as an invaluable resource for educating the public at large.

Fundraising: We remain financially solvent and transparent so we can continue to focus on finding new sources of revenue and maintaining our relationship with those who have provided financial contributions.

Q. Who do you serve?

A. We serve a seven-county radius of Cook, DuPage, Will, McHenry, Kane, Lake and Kendall.

Q. When and why did the humane society start? How has it grown?

A. The West Suburban Humane Society is a volunteer-based animal welfare organization founded in 1972 as a lost-and-found referral service.

We provide housing for up to 25 dogs and 60 cats at a time. We operate at full capacity at all times, with animal care and adoptions being provided by two full-time and six part-time employees and numerous volunteers. Our facility is open to the public six days a week.

We continue to reunite lost animals and their owners by maintaining a database with information on more than 33,000 pets and their owners, and by providing free pet identification tags to all pet owners.

Q. What kind of successes have you had?

A. We recently received a significant bequest that is going into our Fund for the Future, which gets us one step closer to realizing the goal of building a new facility.

Q. What challenges does the organization currently face?

A. The economy has been a real challenge for us. People are struggling. Adoptions and donations are down.

Q. What do you wish the community at large knew about the organization?

A. We provide high-quality veterinary care for all of the homeless animals. We will provide any necessary medical treatment to increase the adoptability of an animal. We have done hip surgeries, heartworm treatment and amputations just to name a few.

Q. How can readers get involved?

A. Volunteer their time, make a monetary donation, donate food or supplies and adopt a pet!

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