Costumed pets celebrate Naperville shelter's 30th anniversary

  • Bruno the Chihuahua dresses as a hot dog Thursday to celebrate not only Halloween but also the 30th anniversary of his temporary home, ADOPT Pet Shelter in Naperville.

      Bruno the Chihuahua dresses as a hot dog Thursday to celebrate not only Halloween but also the 30th anniversary of his temporary home, ADOPT Pet Shelter in Naperville. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Chris Stirn, executive director of ADOPT Pet Shelter in Naperville, dresses as a witch Thursday to celebrate Halloween and the shelter's 30th anniversary with Sharpie, a shar Pei lab mix who is dressed as a monster.

      Chris Stirn, executive director of ADOPT Pet Shelter in Naperville, dresses as a witch Thursday to celebrate Halloween and the shelter's 30th anniversary with Sharpie, a shar Pei lab mix who is dressed as a monster. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • A kitten wears a purple bow for a Halloween costume Thursday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ADOPT Pet Shelter in Naperville.

      A kitten wears a purple bow for a Halloween costume Thursday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ADOPT Pet Shelter in Naperville. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/31/2019 5:30 PM

Bruno the Chihuahua dressed as a hot dog, Sharpie the Shar-Pei and lab mix as a monster and Sparkle the beagle mix as a bumblebee Thursday, not only for Halloween but also for the 30th anniversary of the ADOPT Pet Shelter in Naperville.

The organization of one full-time employee, a handful of part-timers and 237 volunteers marked the completion of its third decade with shelter pets in costume and cake with lunch. But otherwise it was business as usual.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A medical team conducted surgeries as needed. Volunteers took dogs for walks on a snowy day. Prospective adopters browsed through binders. Previous adopters checked in on social media, tagging photos of their ADOPT alumni pets and donating to a 30th Birthday Wish List on amazon.com.

Executive Director Chris Stirn said the 30th anniversary milestone is one of staying power for the shelter, which adopts out between 600 and 700 dogs and cats each year. Its name stands for Animals Deserving of Proper Treatment.

"I feel like it's a really big accomplishment for an organization that started off with a few volunteers and has grown into something special," Stirn said.

The shelter started as a network of animal foster homes that coordinated with Boulder Terrace Animal Hospital in Naperville. It moved about 20 years ago into its first and only building at 420 Industrial Drive.

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Among its accomplishments are a medical department to conduct low-cost spay and neuter procedures and a vaccine clinic serving pets for the past five years. Stirn said she is especially proud of the shelter's Blessed Bonds program, which provides free assistance for up to 60 days with food, medical attention or foster care for pets whose owners are going through an emergency, such as a house fire.

"When families are experiencing a crisis, the last thing they want to worry about is what's going to happen to their pets," Stirn said. "But usually it's the first thing on their list."

While the program focuses on the animals most in the shelter's expertise -- dogs and cats -- it has served roughly 500 families and never turned anyone down, even those with ferrets or birds.

"They're just as loved," Stirn said of less-common pets.

ADOPT board member Joe McElroy of Naperville said despite the shelter's high volume of adoptions completed each year, counselors are careful and keep high standards.

"They work hard to find the best fit between families and pets," he said. "For example, a family that values peace and quiet might not appreciate a noisy, naughty beagle who gets in the trash."

But don't worry, that's a description of McElroy's pet, Baxter, and he's taken.

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