In the plumbing trades, the term "oakum" refers to a fiberous rope material used to seal cast iron pipe drains. However, for Bob Melko, owner of Bishop Plumbing in Des Plaines, IL, the term "oakum" refers to an adorable and affectionate chocolate labrador that ignited his passion to rescue dogs in need of a loving home.
Oakum, a cousin to the company's first "office" dog Morgan, a black labrador owned by Bishop Plumbing Vice President Brian Wilk, was given to Bob Melko as a Christmas gift several years ago by his staff. Oakum brought so much joy and happiness to Bob Melko that he decided to share his holiday inspired gift with others by creating "Plumbers for Puppies," a charitable outreach program funded by Bishop Plumbing's "It's a Wonderful Life Foundation."
Oakum, Morgan and later Buster, another chocolate labrador, currently serve as the Bishop Plumbing office "pet ambassadors" for the rescue program greeting visitors and customers with puppy dog eyes, friendly kisses, and barks of gratitude. They also boost the morale of the office staff sitting ever so patiently for the anticipated peanut butter cookie treats handed out in reward for their good behavior.
In addition to the three original rescues, Plumbers for Puppies has saved over 100 other dogs since its inception in 2011 and plans to expand the foster homes and financial resources in order to double and even triple their rescue numbers in the near future.
The program is licensed with the state of Illinois and promotes the adoption of rescue dogs on its website at www.bishopplumbing.com/plumbers-for-pups and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/plumbers-for-pups. In addtion, Bishop plumbers talk to their customers about the program during service calls and word of mouth spreads quickly from satisfied owners of adopted "Plumbers for Pups" dogs.
Bishop Plumbing Operations Manager Kristina Curran currently handles the day to day functions of Plumbers for Puppies working directly with foster homes, kill shelters, charitable foundations, and a few local animal hospitals.
Each dog that comes in for rescue is brought back spayed and or neutered and up to date on all shots. The dogs live in foster homes until they are eventually adopted.
"Some of the dogs that come into the program have been abused, neglected and treated as throw away garbage," said Kristina. "It breaks my heart and Bob's heart too that people can treat animals this way," she added. "But then we hear of stories of people who open their hearts and homes to these dogs and inspire all of us to continue our mission, like the family who recently adopted Daphne, a pitbull and boxer mix."
"Daphne came to Plumbers for Puppies with an infected eye, underweight and malnutritioned, and slated on "death row" at its former Illinois shelter," stated Kristina. "When she first arrived at Bishop Plumbing, she immediately hid under the table and remained timid for quite some time under her foster home care. Slowly but surely, Daphne came out from under her shell, yet remained fearful of most people and extremely cautious around other dogs.
Miraculously, a Chicago pastor with five daughters saw Daphne's picture on our website and came in to check her out. Striking gold, the pastor and his family fell in love with Daphne and vice versa. To this day, Daphne remains one of our most successful animal rescue stories."
Hoping to add many more similar experiences like Daphne's, Kristina and Bob's soft heart for the rescue dogs continue to spark their expansion plans. Their ultimte goal is to search for and purchase a nearby property and build a state of the art facility to house and show the dogs.
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To adopt a dog through Plumbers for Puppies; take care of a dog through foster care; or financially support the charitable foundation, contact Kristina Curran at Bishop Plumbing at 847-824-1800 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For over 30 years, Bishop Plumbing Inc., has been involved in charity work and donations for several organizations. Bishop Plumbing owner Bob Melko started "It's a Wonderful Life Foundation" in 2012 to support such charitable endeavors as Plumbers for Puppies, St. Jude's Hospital and Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
Bob Melko currently serves as PAMCANI (Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Authority of Northern Illinois) Alliance Vice President, Chairman of the Chicago Plumbing Council; Chairman of Union Affiliated Contractors (UAC); Co-Chairman of the Local 130 JAC (Joint Apprenticeship Committee); and is a union contractor signatory to UA Plumbers Local 130 and 93.