Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kitten Season Hits!

This posting is a modified version of a press release that was distributed widely earlier today. Please help us spread the word!

The South Suburban Humane Society is inundated with kittens. Since May 1, the shelter has taken in 244 homeless kittens and this is only the beginning of “kitten season.” Typically, unaltered cats begin reproducing when the weather begins to get warmer in the early spring and their unwanted litters are surrendered to shelters in high numbers between April and August.

With our Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic in Glenwood, we are making a difference in the area to prevent unwanted pets. Unfortunately, there are still too many cats having litters.

Our goal as always is to save as many as possible so for the entire summer, the adoption fee is cut in half. Cat adoptions are only $55 to encourage more families to adopt feline friends. In addition, the shelter is hosting several events over the summer to encourage cat adoptions.

There are many ways that members of the public can help the South Suburban Humane Society through kitten season:
1) Adopt a homeless kitten and spread the word.
2) Become a foster parent. When litters of kittens are surrendered to the shelter at ages younger than eight weeks (the age of adoption), the shelter looks for foster homes to care for the kittens until they can be adopted. It’s a great activity for families and particularly great for teachers who may have the summer free. The shelter provides all of the supplies necessary for the care of the kittens. For more information, please contact Heather Risser, the SSHS Foster Care Coordinator, at
3) Donate items to help care for the kittens. Items in high demand include KMR (or other brand) Kitten Formula, Purina Kitten Chow, bleach, laundry detergent, kitten toys, and cat litter. Monetary donations are greatly appreciated as they help us provide the vaccinations and shelter the kittens need.
4) If you know an unaltered cat, call the South Suburban Humane Society Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic at (708) 755-1110 to spay or neuter the cat today

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cocker Spaniels Rescued!

This is a fantastic story of our abuse investigation team in action.

At the end of April, the South Suburban Humane Investigators responded to a complaint of abuse & neglect in Chicago Heights, Ill. The complainant stated that dogs were running at large & one appeared to have something wrong with her eyes. Upon arrival at the property a buff Cocker Spaniel female was loose in the front yard. She appeared to be a nursing mother, extremely dirty & matted with two painful looking cherry-eyes oozing pus, red & swollen. The owner of the dogs on the property, opened the front door & the dog ran into the house. SSHS Investigators produced their credentials & explained the reason for the investigation. Owner stated she had one adult male "26", two one year old females "Wonder Woman" & "Baby Girl" mother of the six puppies. "Baby Girl" had two cherry-eyes & "Wonder Woman" had one cherry-eye. None of the adults were spayed or neutered & were not current on vaccinations. Investigators were allowed to view inside the garage where the mother & puppies were confined. The interior of the garage was crammed full of junk. "Baby Girl" & her pups were on a filthy blanket & the cement floor was covered with their excrement. The two other Cocker Spaniels were also allowed to defecate in the garage & had access to the mother & nursing puppies. The male was tied in the back yard without shelter, food or water. He was extremely matted as was the other female. Investigators viewed the six puppies, four weeks old & were informed that one had died. One of the puppies appeared not to be thriving. Investigators informed the owner of the violations of the Humane Care for Animals Act and informed the owner of the steps she needed to take to rectify the violations.

SSHS Investigators returned to the property to monitor the progress of the dogs. On 5/5/2009, the Investigators received a call that an adult Cocker Spaniel & one pup were running at large near the highway. Investigators contacted Animal Control & were accompanied to the residence. Upon arrival Investigators observed a female Cocker Spaniel & a pup loose in the front yard. The male Cocker Spaniel was tied up in the back yard. Investigators informed the owner that she needed to relinquish the adults & pups to SSHS so they could receive the care she was unable to provide. She agreed & signed them over to SSHS Investigators.

The puppies immediately went into foster care. The adults were all groomed, vaccinated, and cared for here at the shelter and as a result of the fashion show, the two females were adopted. The male also went into foster care due to the extreme neglect he suffered. His skin and ears were severely infected. Under the care of his foster mom, he dramatically improved but will continue to suffer from chronic ear problems.

On Sunday, May 31st, SSHS took dad and his 5 puppies for adoption at PAWS Chicago's Angels with Tails event. They caused pandemonium at the intersection of Oak Street and Rush in downtown Chicago! All of the puppies were adopted into extremely loving homes! And the male? He was adopted by an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor and his wife!! What a storybook ending to this tale....

Spotlight Fashion Show & Gala

Another SSHS Fashion Show & Gala has come and gone. 350 folks gathered together to support the organization and a fantastic time was had by all! Several attendees asked me to reprint the text of my speech in the blog. Here it is! Also at the event, we featured two videos that will soon be posted on our website. The first video, "Beautiful," is a moving series of SSHS shelter images set to the song with the same title. Check back to watch them!

"The images in the video were powerful. When I watch it, I am reminded of a slogan that emerged last year. For me, it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the humane spirit.

'Yes we can.'

Yes we can see a day where there is no more exploitation of pit bulls and families line up at the shelter to welcome this beautiful and loving breed into their homes.

Yes we can see a day where cats are the beloved indoor companions they deserve to be and through spaying and neutering there are no more unwanted litters.

And yes we can create a new generation o kindness in our communities where pets are respected and loved and we guardians are as dedicated to our pets as they are to us.

The board, staff, and volunteers at SSHS believe this or we wouldn't devote the number of hours we do to the cause. We believe it and we need you to believe it.

We need you to believe that this group assembled here tonight--whether you have been a member at SSHS for 30 years or a friend invited you here tonight, believe that your unique gifts can make a difference.

On behalf of those truly beautiful souls in the shelter and those yet to come, thank you!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It takes a village to raise a puppy....

What a day. This weekend is the first annual SSHS Volunteer Weekend and yesterday was a day for the books. There are so many moments in my job where I am intensely proud to be a part of the South Suburban Humane Society. Here are just a few snippets of yesterday:

  • A goal for several months has been to move the storage shed from alongside the building to next to the garage. Moving the shed will allow more folks to easily see our pet intake area. Yesterday it was achieved with girl power. Heather Risser hooked the shed up and Ashley Manning towed it with her truck. Semper fi (Ashley is a Marine)! The final maneuverings involved lifting it!
  • Maureen and Don Carlson and their son Caesar cleaned and prepped the area behind the shelter in advance of our new fenced-in play area to come on May 5.
  • Pat Frederickson, Jackie Newman, Diane Bruske, Richard & Mary Ann Hoehn, Amanda Heineman, Ashley, and Maureen painted the multi-purpose room, hallway, and exterior doors.
  • Heather power-washed the exterior of the building and the outdoor play areas.
  • Bob and Sean Kowinya and Olga and Bianca Raices weaved privacy fencing into our side puppy play area for added security.
  • Several volunteers walked dogs while all of the work was taking place.
  • Ten volunteers led by Andrea, Eva, and Nikko Santucci took dogs to the PetSmart in Matteson for an adoption event and three were adopted including another Senior for Senior match! Many thanks to Judy Hartley, Pat & Steve Pearson and all of the others who made the adoption event a success!

And then there's the major project. Ross Peplow, Brian Espel, Ed Kowinya, and Chris Santucci tore down the paneling in the puppy/small dog room, scraped adhesive, and hauled out the garbage. Long into the evening, Heather, Ross and I power washed the room and prepped it for today's painting and sealing. We could barely stand by 9 p.m. and we're all ready to go for another day here at 9 a.m. When we see our beautiful little ones shining like the stars they are in their new room, it will all be worth it!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

There are some days here at the South Suburban Humane Society that I think, if everyone could know this, it would bring so much joy! Hopefully, enough word will spread about the blog that more people can experience our happy stories.

On Monday afternoon, a sweet soul named Diamond walked through our doors. Her owner was moving and after 10 years of ownership, she couldn't keep her. The owner told us that Diamond was a Westie, but honestly, she looked like a worn-out, filthy muppet. I called one of our star volunteers, Diane Bruske. She immediately came to the shelter and took Diamond to one of the area groomers who takes on our emergency, in-need dogs--Lucie Madecka. Yesterday morning when Diane brought Diamond back into the shelter, she lived up to her name. Sparkling, shining, and with a soft-as-butter coat, she trotted through the lobby and she knew she looked good!

Diamond was placed in a kennel in the puppy/small dog room at 11 a.m. and by 5 p.m. she was walking back out the door to a final forever home. A senior adopter set her eyes on Diamond and through our Seniors for Seniors program, she adopted Diamond for only the cost of the Rabies vaccination. I wish everyone could have seen the way that Diamond gazed into her new mom's eyes and the way her new mom cuddled and cooed at her in return.

Diamond's story is why the staff, board, and volunteers at SSHS pour our blood, sweat, and tears into our work every day. If there is even one Diamond each week, it's worth it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Shelter Pet Project

I was fortunate to attend the Humane Society of the United States' Animal Care Expo last week. I learned, shared, networked, and emerged with new energy for the work at hand.

Expo attendees were the first to learn an extremely exciting news item. The Ad Council, the folks behind such memorable campaigns as "Only you can prevent forest fires," "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," and "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" is poised to launch a three-year, $120 million effort to change the way Americans view shelter pets and promote adoption. This is the first time the Ad Council has selected an animal welfare issue.

Leaders in the animal welfare movement say there's never been anything like the massive campaign that will reach out using the internet, tv, radio, print, and outdoor advertising to persuade Americans looking for a pet to make shelters and rescue groups their first choice. The campagin will target more than 33,000 media outlets!

The goal of the campaign is to double adoptions from 4 million annually to 8 million. Experts predict a 300% increase in phone and foot traffic to local shelters in the beginning of the campaign which is set to launch in mid-year.

SSHS will be ready. Please help spread the word about adoption first. If you hear someone commenting about the ads they've seen, steer them towards SSHS. Their next forever friend is waiting for them there.

For more information, you can visit


Welcome to the first post to the South Suburban Humane Society's blog! Here you'll find regular updates about SSHS, stories to tug at your heart, and insider information about the shelter and organization. We'll have occasional guest bloggers, contests, and lots of fun. Please pass the site along to friends, family, etc. and subscribe to get the latest updates.

All the best to you today and every day,
Emily Gruszka
Executive Director