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Humane society shows its appreciation for rescue missions

Sarah Franky Halloran Chicago holds Tanner 2-year-old long-haired cthshe adopted after he was taken from flea-infested residence by Libertyville-based Animal

Sarah Franky Halloran of Chicago holds Tanner, a 2-year-old long-haired cat that she adopted after he was taken in from a flea-infested residence by Libertyville-based Animal Education and Rescue. | DAN MORAN/SUN-TIMES MEDIA

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Updated: March 23, 2014 3:30AM

Tales of human beings covered in fleas and animals being rescued from underneath cars were shared last Saturday as families who have adopted pets through Libertyville-based Animal Education and Rescue gathered for a reunion of sorts.

For example, Sandy Wisniewski, founder of the nonprofit humane society, told a gathering of more than two dozen people and their pets about a poodle mix named Roxy who was on the verge of living in a car with her former owner when AEAR was called in.

“That was an interesting story. (The owners) were homeless and it was a messy breakup in their relationship, the police got involved. It was an uncomfortable situation,” Wisniewski said. “This dog was in terrible physical shape, and we needed (the owner) to surrender the dog. We can’t just take somebody’s dog.”

Wisniewski added that in talking to one of the owners, “it was quite apparent he had an alcohol problem or drug problem. I felt compassion for him. His life was falling apart, but he didn’t want to give up his dog. His dog meant the world to him.”

“After much discussion, I assured him that the dog would be well-cared for, would be loved, we would find a wonderful home for her. He realized that we were good people and we would find a good home for her.”

That home ended up being with the Kuchler family of Libertyville, who took Roxy in just before Christmas 2012 with the intention of fostering her. Michelle Kuchler, in attendance on Saturday with daughters Robin and Corey, said an instant connection was made and they decided to adopt Roxy permanently.

Saturday’s event, held at Classic Windows on Liberty Drive in Libertyville, was intended to give adoptive families like the Kuchlers a formal thank-you ceremony, a standard AEAR procedure that sometimes falls by the wayside in an emergency adoption.

“Because we fostered her and then adopted her a couple of days later, we never had an official adoption ceremony, so that’s why we wanted to come here today,” said Kuchler as Roxy jumped around greeting every human or animal that came in the door.

Another success story was seen in Tanner, a 2-year-old long-haired cat who came to AEAR’s attention when a wellness check was requested. Wisniewski said the owner was in a rehab situation, so she and another volunteer went to feed his cats.

When they left the mobile home, Wisniewski said, “I was covered from the tips of my toes all the way up to here with fleas.” Tanner eventually was taken into foster care, and he was adopted Saturday by Sarah Franky Halloran and Martin Betoni of Chicago.

Halloran, who said the couple had been looking to add a long-haired cat to a brood of pets that includes a chihuahua and another cat, was asked if there are any advantages to adopting a full-grown cat rather than a kitten.

“Kittens are always so rambunctious, whereas adult cats are more settled,” Halloran said, adding that “it just feels better” to adopt.

“This will be our third rescue,” said Betoni, “(and) I think it’s kind of silly to start your search, if you’re looking for an animal, by just automatically going to a breeder. I think it’s responsible to look around and see maybe if there’s a fit for what you had in mind that is adoptable.

“And of course, it’s always about meeting the right animal,” added Betoni, saying that they found Tanner to be “a ridiculously amazing cat.”

Detailing Tanner’s story for the crowd, Wisniewski admitted that it is bittersweet to see some of AEAR’s animals head out the door.

“When someone adopts, (we) do a little ceremony,” Wisniewski said. “It’s our way of sending off an animal just in a nice way, and it’s also a nice way of recognizing the foster family that worked so hard to get them to where they are.

“It’s very emotional, but it also brings great closure for us, for the volunteers. Even the ones that don’t foster them, everyone gets emotionally involved in all of these animals and their stories.”

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