$1.2 million Palatine cat rescue expansion on track, open house planned soon
An ambitious $1.2 million expansion and renovation of a cat rescue shelter in Palatine is nearing the end of its first phase, with hopes that the project will be done by spring.
Barb's Precious Rescue and Adoption Center opened in 2014 at 313 N. Quentin Road thanks to founder Barb Weber, who, with her husband Jerry, purchased the 2,200-square-foot farmhouse building in 2013. The space will more than triple in size to 7,500 square feet as a result of the project.
The shelter, which has 501(c) nonprofit status, will accommodate up to 300 cats, same as before, but with more amenities and specialized areas, such as a 600-square-foot room for teenage cats -- which comprise the majority of rescues -- a room for cats with special needs, and isolation rooms for kittens and ill cats.
The shelter also will be able to accommodate dogs, hopefully next summer, starting with six dogs as approved by the village, Weber said.
"We have a nice, fenced-in backyard, and we have the walking trail behind us, which is nice," she added.
The expansion project started in August 2018. The first phase, nearly finished, consists of building a second floor and a two-story addition.
The second phase will see the shelter temporarily moving operations into the addition and renovating the original space, Weber said.
The rescue shelter has fundraised about $550,000, thanks to major donors Ehlert Family Foundation, Claudette Johnson and her family in Palatine, David Helt of Rolling Meadows, Mary Ann Hetreed of Arlington Heights, plus many other donors in the community, she said. The shelter also got a loan of about $400,000 and needs to fundraise at least another $200,000, Weber said.
It has adopted out 250 to 350 cats per year since it opened, or about 1,800 cats altogether, Weber said. The shelter currently has about 120 cats, including kittens and adults. During the COVID-19 pandemic there are no open viewings of cats and people are required to make appointments, Weber said.
The shelter relies on about 200 active volunteers, including Weber and her husband. The only paid contractor is local veterinarian Kristine Krausser, who provides services at a discount, she said. A major supporter is Rescue Pack Chicago, which donates pallets of food.
The village of Palatine is among those who contact the shelter regularly for help with rescued cats -- three times since Sunday alone.
"We used Barb's Precious Rescue a lot, pretty much for all of our stray kittens," police Sgt. Bruce Morris said. "There is no charge to the village and it's always been a good experience with us."
Weber works full time as chief operating officer for UnityPoint Health, while her husband is retired. The couple live in Barrington Hills.
Weber said she began taking in cats who needed a home and eventually resolved to open a rescue facility after her retirement. That plan accelerated when the opportunity came to purchase the building in 2013, she said.
The shelter started with 50 cats and within three months had 100, she said.
"The amount of times we had to say 'no' is what prompted us to do this," Weber said of the expansion.
The shelter plans to hold an open house for the community once the first phase is over.
To contribute you can visit barbspreciousrescue.org.