From parades to farmer markets to other local events, Chicago-area animal shelters and rescues are hitting the road to help find more homes for the animals in their care. Although rescues without a physical location have used outreach for years to build relationships, larger shelters in the area now out in the community as well.
“Community outreach has become very important to us for two reasons,” adds Mark Portugal, the development director of the no-kill shelter Save-A-Pet (SAP), which has been around for 40 years. “It lets our current supporters know that we are still in business after our rough financial situation last year and to thank them for their support. It also enables us to reach out to new areas in the community and expand the adoption pool for the animals in our care.”
Although SAP has a physical location, this year the shelter’s team hit the road for a variety of parades, farmers’ markets, Taylor Street Fest in Chicago and adoption events at a variety of locations. Portugal adds that the shelter has found homes for many cats and kittens through the adoption centers at the PetSmart Stores in Vernon Hills and Kildeer.
Introducing foster animals and other rescue programs
“Because we are a rescue and don’t have a physical location, we need to hit a variety of venues in the suburbs so that more people know we are there,” says Dawn Kemper, executive director of Young at Heart Pet Rescue. “Because we focus on rescuing senior cats and dogs, the outreach also enables us to introduce the animals to a larger audience to increase their chance for adoption and gives them a chance to see what great pets we have available.”
YAH does a monthly adoption event the second Saturday of the month at the Lake Zurich Petco from 9 a.m. to noon where they also have adoption space for some of their cats. At the event, they are able to showcase their dogs that live in foster homes and hold a food drive for Nina’s Pantry – the food pantry YAH has started to help pets and their owners get through the ‘ruff times.’ They’ve also hit area Farmer’s Markets and dog-focused events including the Mutt and Movie Night and Canine Carnival.
Forming new partnerships
Tree House is Chicago’s largest, oldest, no-kill shelter specializing in the rescue of sick, injured, abused and neglected cats in the metro-area. Although the 40-year-old shelter has locations in Uptown and Bucktown, you can routinely find Tree House supporters out in the community at various fund raisers, adoption events and other community activites aimed at promoting the organization. This year, Tree House has partnered with two independent pet stores Follow Your Nose in Evanston and Doggy Style in the city to also showcase cats and kittens available for adoption.
“We need to be out in the community for more people to realize that we are here and to introduce more of our cats and kittens to the public,” says Jenny Schlueter director of development. “This year, we’ve needed more outside partners and needed to promote ourselves more than ever because we’ve pulled so many stray cats and young kittens from our various Trap Neuter Return projects (TNR), specifically our Feral Friends Project in the 60651 zip code on the West side.”
The Chicago English Bulldog Rescue does not have a shelter and relies on foster homes to socialize and house their dogs until they are adopted. “English Bulldogs are a unique breed that has unusual needs and they have a lot of health issues,” says Molly Marino, president of the organization. “We host a monthly dog meet-up so people may interact with the dogs and talk to other owners about the challenges with the breed so they are fully educated before they take the plunge. We also plan other events to get out with the public and build breed awareness.”
The organizations make use of eNewsletters, Facebook posts and Twitter updates to update their supporters to events and outreach opportunities. Check out Save-A-Pet online, Facebook and Twitter; Tree House online, Facebook and Twitter; Young at Heart online, Facebook and Twitter; and the Chicago English Bulldog Rescue online, Facebook and Twitter.