How we came to be.
Creator and Host of Max A Pooch's Awesome Animal Advocates http://www.petliferadio.com/awesomeadvocates.html. A companion of Max A. Pooch, the dog named "Canine Superhero to the Environment," Keith Sanderson writes about animal advocates and their advocacies. His background includes writing, corporate and not-for-profit marketing and advertising experience, including serving as director of communication for an anti-puppy mill organization. He is looking for good article ideas and invites you to contact him if you have an idea that you believe is worth reading.
Learn how a diabetic dog led to the founding of For the Love of Pets
Karen McCumsey founder and president of For the Love of Pets never realized that when she started out to find help for a diabetic dog she would end up founding For the Love of Pets. McCumsey shares her story of why she founded For the Love of Pets and the challenges she faces.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: When was For the Love of Pets Founded?
McCumsey: We began in 2009 as a charity. It was one of those situations where I was looking around for my sister, to get help with her dog who was diabetic, and found out there were not a lot of groups out there to help family pets. As is almost always the case, when you look for someone to help and can't find anyone, you end up becoming that someone. Then, in May of this year that we decided to get our State of Illinois license for Rescue/Shelter/Foster.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: What is the mission of For the Love of Pets?
McCumsey: Our main focus is to help families' keep their pets during these hard economic times. We have a local pet food bank and help with emergency veterinary care and are in the process of putting together a program to help with foreclosure situations. Helping families who are facing foreclosure is a passion of mine. We all know the foreclosure situation and how bad it is out there. It not only impacts people, it impacts their pets. Many times there is no place for them to go.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: Is that why you obtained a rescue/shelter/foster license this year?
McCumsey: Yes. I am torn between 2 things, both equally vital. The City of Streator is in desperate need of funding for a shelter and a place for low cost spay/neuter/vaccination clinic.
The second item is my foreclosure program. I get so many calls from people who are losing their homes and they don't care about the home or even their possessions, they are heartbroken over their pets. Who is going to adopt in a 10 year old dog suffering from arthritis? In many cases there is more than one pet in the family and the people who face foreclosure only want one thing, to keep their entire family together. And as all pet owners know, pets are family too.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: Doesn’t Streator have a no kill animal shelter?
McCumsey: No, we have a dog pound, which is not a no kill shelter. The City of Streator has extremely limited funds to use for the animals that end up in its care. If nearby no-kill shelters are full, the only way an animal leaves the pound is to be euthanized.
The State of Illinois laws, which are in place to protect the animals, make it impossible to adopt out animals which end up in the pound. All animals leaving the pound must have their shots, be spayed, neutered and micro chipped. Without the resources and funding to do this at the
Streator facility, many animals are going to end up being euthanized.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: With your limited resources how have you been able to increase the number of animals from Streator and the rest of La Salle county that are saved from being euthanized?
McCumsey: We have been successful placing cats and dogs by reaching out to other animal rescue/shelter organizations such as the Pet Project, Inc. located in Marseilles, Illinois. They take in dogs to help us on a regular basis. So does Safe House Animal Rescue League, located in Mendota, Illinois. There is also Bishop's Small Dog Rescue, Inc. NFP located in Wyanet, Illinois. Also, if I ever need a place to relocate birds there is LaSalle County Parrot Rescue, in Grand Ridge, Illinois and a new 501 (c) (3) named A place Tocallhome Parrot Rescue located in Serena, Illinois.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: Is there anything being done to initiate a the spay neuter program that will reduce the number of unwanted puppies and kittens that arrive at the Streator animal facility?
McCumsey: There is an organization that is trying to get help to Streator with a low cost spay/neuter and vaccination clinic. No Animal Left Behind, NFP, located in Marseilles, Illinois is doing a fantastic job in LaSalle County . I have volunteered with them and they are wonderful.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: You said your original goal was to help those with pets who were going through foreclosure or being evicted from their apartments find homes for their animals. Is that a big problem?
McCumsey: Yes, it is, especially difficult getting donations and grants. There are very few grants for foreclosure assistance and most of those are to help people, not their pets. It's a scary economy out there...most of us are only one illness or one lay-off away from foreclosure. Yet, there is nothing in place to help the family pets that are being ripped away from the family that loves them. People don't think about that or really even seem to realize that it could happen to them, as well. What a lot of people don't think about or seem to have much sympathy for, is the way these people suffer over their family pets. I get so many calls from people who are losing their homes and they don't care about the home or even their possessions - they are heartbroken over their pets. It's like being told that instead of taking your child with you when you are forced to leave the home you love - you have to hand your child over to strangers.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: Can you give an example of a case you have helped.
McCumsey: A Classic example is Dolly the dog. She is now 12 years old and her Parker (family cat) is 13. The owners who were foreclosed on and couldn't keep Dolly or Parker and insisted that they stay together when they lost their home two years ago.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: Did you get them placed?
McCumsey: It was actually through a friend of mine, Barry Deboor, who is the Lee County Animal Control Warden and one of the hardest working people I know in rescue, that we learned of Dolly. He knew what would happen if he placed these animals into a shelter and contacted me for help. It's almost a certain death sentence to place an older dog into a shelter...it's even worse when that dog comes with a pet of it's own, which Dolly did with Parker the cat. And there is no separating the two. They love each other and are bonded.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: What happened?
McCumse : Well I took them in to Foster...knowing from the start I'd be a foster failure with these 2. I still have them.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: What should homeowners or renters who own pets do if they know they are facing foreclosure or eviction?
A: Don't wait. Don't put off getting your pet into a shelter. Most people who lose their homes to foreclosure wait way too late to get help for their pets. It can take months of planning to re-home your pet safely. When people are going through something as traumatic as losing a home, they just aren't thinking clearly. I see it all the time, most of the people who have contacted me have one thing in common. It never really crosses their mind to look for homes for their pets until they are about 2 weeks from being evicted. Their pets are family and they just assume that where they go - so will their pets.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: Can’t they just take their pet with them?
McCumsey: Sometimes, most of the time, it simply doesn't work that way. It's really hard to find a place willing to rent to a family with pets. It's even harder for a family in this position in the first place to come up with the extra hundreds for a Pet Security deposit. It's a heart breaking mess is what it is. At the last minute they try to place their dogs or cats..
Animal Advocacy Examiner: What happens to the animals in cases such as this?
McCumsey : Most shelters are at full capacity and there is a waiting list. There is no program in place for this situation. There needs to be one. This is what I want to do more than anything. Start a foreclosure program. It's so essential. Family pets are being torn from the family that loves them on a daily basis. Many times these dogs are elderly and have health issues that makes it impossible to adopt them out.
Animal Advocacy Examiner: If readers want to help what do you suggest they should do?
McCumsey: We can always use volunteers, and any readers who live in La Salle County who want to help, please contact us And of course monetary donations are always welcome.We are 100% volunteer and all the donations we receive go towards helping family pets. We can’t do this alone without the kindness and compassion of others. It takes so little to help. We’re a registered 501(3) non profit and most donations are tax deductible.