Fittest loser
Article updated: 7/8/2013 11:43 PM

E. Dundee to lease building to group helping veterans, veteran dogs

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East Dundee officials are doing their part to help veterans, including the four-legged variety.

The village board Monday night leased a building for a Save-a-Vet, which places retired military and law enforcement canines unsuitable for adoption elsewhere with disabled military veterans and first responders who were injured in the line of duty.

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Both parties agreed on a month-to-month lease in which the nonprofit would pay a dollar each month for rent.

Lindenhurst-based Save-a-Vet has been around for seven years. The program works by hiring a wounded veteran or first responder to look after the dog that would otherwise be euthanized. Once in the program, the canine becomes a therapy dog for its new master.

In exchange for taking care of the canine, the veteran or first responder gets free housing in one of the program's homes. The caregiver is responsible for the pooch as well as the house, said Danny Scheurer, founder and chief executive officer of Save-a-Vet and an Iraq veteran. They are also subject to drug testing.

The program follows up with scheduled and unscheduled visits to ensure the house and the dog are being maintained. Participants have the option of volunteering to work in the home 40 hours a week or seeking employment elsewhere.

"If you're living in our property, you're doing something for 40 hours a week," Scheurer said.

Two veterans and two canines will move into an East Dundee building on the 400 block of Barrington Avenue that used to house that village's water treatment plant and had been vacant for years.

Volunteers from the nonprofit organization are just completing renovations that involved installing a kennel, a kitchen, a pair of bedrooms and a bathroom -- at their own expense.

But East Dundee employees from the public works department were kind enough to donate some of their time toward the renovations.

"Every neighbor's been great to us, every city official has helped us out," Scheurer said. "It's been amazing."

Right now, nine veterans/first responders and 14 dogs are enrolled in the program, which runs houses in Illinois -- McHenry and Lake counties -- Wisconsin, Indiana and Virginia.

Scheurer is looking into other properties in Carpentersville, Maryland and New York.

And he is in negotiations to relocate Save-A-Vet's headquarters to Elgin.

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