Like children waiting for the arrival of the Polar Express, a group of dog lovers waited for a cargo van full of dogs rescued from Kentucky to arrive at Happy Pet Parlor, a dog grooming business in Elk Grove Village.
By 7 p.m. on a bone chilling Sunday night, several local families were waiting to take the dogs home, either to adopt them or hold them until another owner could be found.
The van had been scheduled to arrive earlier that day, but because of the weather, it had only just crossed the state line.
Vanessa Chevarria, a board member of Elgin-based Rescue Warriors Corp, a no-kill animal rescue group, said more than 40 dogs were pulled from Kentucky shelters.
"That's basically the largest transport that we have ever done," she said.
Chevarria explained that the Kentucky shelters are overpopulated, so many of them get put down within a day.
"In those rural areas, there aren't rescues to get the dogs out of the shelters," said one of the owners of Happy Pet Parlor, Jolie McGrath. The other owner is Isiah McDaniel. "A lot of people don't understand that there are shelters and rescues."
Shelters will take in unwanted dogs that are either deposited there or taken in as strays. The majority of the public, she said, will go to a rescue rather than a shelter to obtain a dog.
"Rescues go to the shelters, get the dogs that are on death row, get them vetted, put them in foster homes, get them used to being in homes and turn them into real dogs. Then people prefer to adopt them that way."
Chevarria said many of the dogs will be shown at an adoption event noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Dog Play Day Care, 301 W. Central Road in Mount Prospect.
During the summer, Happy Pet Parlor is also the center of adoption events,
Had the dogs traveling to Elk Grove not been rescued they likely would have been euthanized.
"For every 100 dogs that go into the shelter, maybe one person will adopt them," McGrath said, because there isn't enough space in the shelter or enough homes that want to adopt the dogs.
The group arriving included all types of dogs, among them Labradors, German shepherds and chihuahuas.
Some of those who came to pick up the dogs traveled at great risk over roads thickly strewed with snow.
Bruce Stredde of Montgomery said he intended to take back with him a couple of black Labs.
"We have rescued a dog before, and now we're looking to foster one and adopt one."
"I think it's a nice thing. I think these guys are doing a great job, partnering up with Rescue Warriors."
Renee Fuentes from Hanover Park, who said this will be the seventh dog she has fostered, came prepared with such equipment as collars, leashes.