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VIDEO: Surviving the Dog Days, One Shelter Prospers

Riverwoods facility beats odds and has adoption success compared to others.

“Hi sweetie,” Rochelle Bishop whispered to a dog at while enthusiastically petting its nose through a cage.

The Zion resident said she traveled 40 minutes to the animal shelter in Riverwoods after she was tipped off about its great selection.

“I think it’s better to give a dog a home than go buy a puppy from a pet store,” Bishop said about her desire to select a furry friend from a facility like Orphans. “It’s too many dogs that need homes.”

Bishop is exactly the kind of person animal adoption centers are looking for. The problem is, there aren’t that many potential adopters like Bishop out there right now.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, shelters nationwide are facing tough times including lower adoption rates along with a drop in donations and municipal funding. For example, in Northbrook has seen a 40 percent decline in adoptions since last year.

Patch recently spoke with a number of struggling shelters such as Heartland. to read more about their hardships.

But not all local facilities are barking for help. Adoption numbers are actually up from last year at Orphans of the Storm, and community outreach director Jackie Borchew said the recession might be partially to blame.

“One possibility could be that in hard economic times, a shelter animal is more affordable than a breeder dog and people are staying home rather than going on vacations. So why not add a pet?” Borchew said.

“This year, we’ve seen a lot more animals going out then last year.” she added.

Like Orphans, adoption numbers are also up at in Niles. The organization had 2,550 pet adoptions last year, and is on track to find homes for 3,200 animals this year. Manager Cathy Anderson said she has heard from customers who intend to get new pets instead of going on vacation.

The high turnaround is a must since both shelters have been seeing many people returning animals that had been adopted years earlier when the economy was better.

“We see a lot of foreclosure dogs coming in here,” Borchew said. “It’s the saddest thing to see a grown man walk up with a cat carrier crying because he has to give up his pet.”

Anderson had similar scenes to share. “We’ve seen a large increase in people having to get rid of their pets because of people losing their homes,” she explained. “It’s the most common story we’re hearing.”

To survive the dog days, Borchew says Orphans keeps its selection up and its prices down as it tries to provide customers with a good quality of selections.

Noting that “25 percent of the dogs that come through the shelter are pure bred,” she said, “I could walk you in right now and hook you up with a 1-year-old yellow Lab.”

Which is one of the reasons why Bishop made the road trip. “I just wanted to give a dog a home that was at the shelter,” she said. 

To find out more about Orphan of the Storm’s adoption techniques, adoption requirements and how many homes it hopes of finding for pets this year, click on the video above. 

Keith Sanderson July 15, 2011 at 01:40 PM
Pet stores are still selling puppies. They shouldn't sell puppies, because according to the humane society 99% of the puppies sold by pet stores come from puppy mills. These are cruel inhumane places. (for more about puppy mills go to www.thepuppymillproject.org) I found Max at Orphans of the Storm. He is a registered black lab who was six months of age who was terrified. His owners had turned him into Waukegan Animal Control. Adopting a dog is like recycling. It is taking something someone else has discarded and putting it to good use. In the case of recycling a dog you are also changing a story that could have a sad ending to one that has a good ending. Max is one example off fantastic dogs who are waiting to be adopted at Orphans of the storm and other animal shelters. Max even has his own web site, www.maxapooch.com , and is the anti litter lab that has appeared in the article and the video in the Deerfield Patch.
George Slefo July 15, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Great video! Makes me want another dog.
nomonon July 15, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Google 'Amish dog auctions' and you'll see where many of these animals come from.
victoria smith July 16, 2011 at 01:22 PM
We too got our dog form Orhans of the Storm 8 years ago and have been sending friends there. Wonderful place. Our dog Samson has abeen nothing but a joy. As it turns out we had purchased an Estrallian Mountain dog that had been trained quite well, he was almost three when we got him. We would go back again if we wanted another dog.
Fred October 12, 2011 at 02:48 PM
Many years ago when our kids were young we found Duffy at Orphans. He gave all of us many years of joy. Well the kids grew up & went to college & Duffy stayed home with us until he passed away. Our life style changed & we felt it was not fair to have another dog that would be left alone for long periods of time. So we decided to place Orphans in our will,as well as periodic donations, hopefully funding many years of wonderful "Orphan's Care".

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