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Gabby Needs a Home

Gabby is a kitty whose owners had to give her up because they were being evicted from their home.  Gabby is sweet, mellow, and good with cats and dogs. We estimate... [more] View All Adoptable Animals

Help Needed for Dogs of Animal Hoarder

Sunday, September 11, Humane Investigators Sandy K. and Stephanie C. responded to a complaint regarding over a dozen dogs living in deplorable conditions in Lake County.  Upon investigation they found a... [more] View All Journal Entries


Mona's Miracle Fund


The telephone call was disturbing.  A girl was calling on behalf of her family who had a serious problem.  Their Siberian husky dogs had a litter of puppies and one of them had they learned was sick.  She said that the nine-week-old puppy, they named Mona, had seizures every day and also “leaked urine.” 

“We can’t get anyone to take her,” the soft-spoken girl began.  “We love her and don’t want to put her to sleep.  We can’t afford the medical things the doctor said she will need.  So we want to give her to somewhere that can maybe save her life and give her the medical care she needs.”

“Can I speak to your parents?”  I asked, wanting to speak to an adult.

“They don’t speak English.”

“Okay, well, first, I have to ask, are you going to breed your dogs again?”

“Oh, no, we got our girl-dog fixed.  We learned our lesson.  We don’t want this terrible, terrible thing to happen again.”

“That’s good,” I replied.  “Have you checked with the Siberian husky rescues?” 


“Let me give you their numbers.  Call them.  That is their breed.  Hopefully they can help.”

We hung up but that call stayed with me and I wondered what was going to happen with that poor little puppy.  Her situation sounded very serious and the medial expenses, I was certain, would be very high.  But I didn’t have to wonder about the puppy long because in less than a week the girl called again.

“It’s me, the one with Mona, the puppy with the seizures and urine problem,” she said when I answered the phone.  “I called places and no one said they would take her.  I don’t want to put her to sleep.  She’s just a baby.  We love her.  Please can you help us?”

I paused and took a deep breath.  I knew taking the puppy would be very, very expensive plus very, very stressful on me and I was trying to manage the amount of stress I added to my life.  “Send me some photos of her and let me put something on Facebook and call me back tomorrow.”

Within an hour I received several photos of a tiny, husky pup, napping, playing and looking at the camera.  She looked so full of life my heart melted.  So I wrote a note on Facebook explaining the puppy’s dilemma. I said that I was thinking of taking her in but was concerned about the medical expenses and getting the support we needed in order to help her. I added, “I am looking for feedback and advise.” Then I posed the question, “Will we get support if we take her?”  The overwhelming responses  - over 40 of them in less than a few hours - were, “YES we will support you, we will donate and spread the word.”  The consensus, “SAVE THE PUPPY!”


Going on faith that people would keep to their word I agreed to take Mona and by the next morning I was at the animal hospital waiting anxiously for the puppy to arrive.  A petite teenage girl with soft, dark brown eyes and black hair and her weathered-looking, kind-faced father arrived carrying a wire cage with the precious little pup inside.  Mona was strikingly pretty and surprisingly healthy and robust looking considering her health issues.  After I spent some time with the family I took Mona out to have a closer look at her.  Lifting her up to see her underside I noticed immediately the drip, drip, constant drip, of urine. With a sad I said, “I’ll do everything I can for her.  She won’t suffer.  But I honestly can’t tell you what her future is.”  They said they understood.  

“If you have to put her to sleep can you call me so I can be with her?”  The girl asked.  I assured her I would call her if that were the case.

They said goodbye to Mona, petting her and kissing her, tears streaming down their faces and walked out.  

Mona was now officially my responsibility and I immediately felt the weight of it on my shoulders.  Could we save this little puppy?  Near panic sat in my throat but I swallowed it down and gained comfort in thinking of the 40-plus people on Facebook who said they would support us.  I had to have faith in that.  But my faith would be tested in very short order.

The doctor wanted to keep Mona for observation and to take some blood for testing so I left empty handed, my mind whirling with all the necessary arrangements I needed to make for Mona.  By early evening I had arranged for her to stay at a doggy daycare for the night   She needed constant observation because of the seizures so it was vital that I find a foster home by the next day otherwise she would have to come to my house.  The doggy day care was not an appropriate place for her for any longer than a night.  I texted emailed and called everyone I could think of that might foster Mona.  Everyone said no. 

How would I find someone to take in a puppy that had seizures and leaked urine?  I could understand why everyone said no.  Someone had to step up.  I was already overloaded with work running the day-to-day tasks of AEAR, as well as the animals in my care, plus my three-year-old child who was still in diapers.  I couldn’t imagine caring for a puppy in diapers as well.  But I knew it was a possibility I would have to foster her and I told myself I would accept that if necessary.  I always knew the train’s last stop was my house. 

That night while working in my office, I received some e-mails and phone calls that really upset me.  While I won’t disclose who contacted me, I will say it was people who also were involved in rescuing animals.  They shared with me every possible scenario of what could go wrong. The basic gist of it was that I was “crazy for taking the puppy.”   That night I poured out my fears to Gene, a long time supporter of AEAR who had become a friend, in an e-mail.  I told him about the people who said I was crazy to take her and that those people said she “will suffer” and was “unlikely to survive.” 

Rationally I knew there was no way anyone could know what the future would bring for Mona but in a state of worry my mind was working over time.  I did know I was taking a big financial risk.  What if I couldn’t raise the money? Would I have to put her to sleep simply because I didn’t have the money to pay for her medical care? That would be the most horrible thing to do. What if we couldn’t get the seizures under control?  As a mind will do, mine ran away with me in tow.  What if the urine problem can’t be fixed?  Would I have a70-pound dog living in my house for the next 15 years?   That night I had a fitful sleep, agonizing over my decision about taking Mona. 

In the morning I received a long and strongly written reply from Gene.  He said, “How dare people say that to you.  That’s just evil and mean!  Of course you should have taken her.  You did the right thing.”   He assured me that people would step up and help and he “would be there every step of the way.”

Looking on Facebook, I read even more e-mails of encouragement.  I was so grateful for the positive words and read them over and over again.  But now I had to focus on my most immediate concern… where would she live? Then a new message came through on Facebook.  It was from a young couple, Alix and Jimmy  - who attended our new volunteer orientation the previous month, offering to foster Mona.  Gratitude swept over me.  One obstacle had been solved.  It was beginning to appear that things were working out despite my doubts and fears.

Mona traveled to her foster home that evening and her foster family began the task of making Mona comfortable, monitoring and logging her seizures and learning to diaper a puppy.  We set up a “Chip In” on our web site, a way for people to chip in money right from our web site.  We estimated that her medical costs  - which would likely include surgery, could realistically reach $4,000.00.  In a matter of days the donations slowly grew.  By the first week we had raised $1,500.00.  While not at our goal we were at a great start.

Meanwhile I was dealing with doctors, communicating regularly with Alix and Jimmy and looking into other ways to raise money for Mona.  My week became consumed by tasks necessary for Mona. As much as I tried not to the nagging worry, while not in the forefront of my mind, was back there like a persistent ache.  But little by little things just kept falling into place.

Alix’s dad had tickets to a Soxs vs. Cubs game and offered to forgo attending the game and raffle off the tickets.  We calculated that we could potentially raise over a thousand dollars.  With the help of volunteers, we set up the raffle.  The same afternoon I was at the grocery store and received a call from Alix.  A good friend of Alix’s mom offered to pay for Mona’s surgery.  I was glad to have the cart to lean on and steady myself. 

Then the next day we received a check in the mail for $1,700.00 with a note simply saying, “This is for Mona’s medical expenses.”  That money along with the money coming in through Chip In and we had reached our goal and this was even without the gift from Alix’s mother’s friend.  It was a miracle, truly and completely! 

BUT the money kept coming. 

I couldn’t believe it.  Donations came in from around the country and all over the world.

Mona’s daily seizures had to be controlled so rather than wait until she saw a specialist for the bladder (which was the original plan) her doctor decided to begin her on anti-seizure medication right away.

Meanwhile the following day I received a call from Jimmy.  They were moving to a new house and he asked if someone could watch Mona for two weeks while they got settled into their new place.  I put the plea out on Facebook and within a short time a few people offered to take Mona, my friend Gene being one of them.  I met Gene and his partner Chris when they adopted Handsome Harper from us many years before and I knew the meticulous and loving care they gave all of their dogs.  I knew that Mona would be very, very good hands so I took him up on his generous offer.  The following week Alix drove Mona to Gene and Chris’s home in Indiana where she would stay for two weeks.

When we first received Mona we lined up a fundraiser for her at a local restaurant that was scheduled for the following Monday night where we likely would raise even more money.  The restaurant would give 15% of the total sales back to us.  The fundraiser was all set up and ready to go.  But we now had a new dilemma; we may have raised too much money.  And it was too late to cancel the fundraiser.  I couldn’t believe we would have such a problem! 

Then a thought came to me.  Since we met our goal (I hope) let’s set up a special fund and call it, Mona’s Miracle Fund.  It would be a fund for animals that come into our care that need medical help beyond the normal vaccines, spaying/neutering, microchipping and heartworm testing.  That day I made my intentions for the extra money known through Facebook, our web site and our Internet newsletter.

The night of the restaurant fundraiser Mona Supporters came by to eat and make donations.  I was delighted to see people I hadn’t seen for a long time and people that I only knew through e-mails or Facebook.  Our regular volunteers hung out for evening, eating a tasty meal and enjoying each other’s company. 

Mid-way through the evening two middle-school girls stopped in to present us with a check for nearly $500.00.   They told us that they had sold Pupcakes (cupcakes) at their school.  They shared with us the fun they had making the cupcakes and how many of their school friends also pitched in to help. 

That weekend Gene brought Mona back to Illinois so that she could go to her initial appointment with the specialist who would operate on her bladder.  She came to stay with me because Alix and Jimmy’s didn’t have a fenced yard at their new home and with her condition we thought it was best that she have access to a fenced yard to run and play in.  She settled in comfortably with my furry crew and has a newfound best friend in fellow foster puppy Cocoa, a chocolate mix breed, who matches her in age, size and energy level.

What happens for Mona from here is a mystery but I hope and pray she will have a wonderful life, no matter the length.  How long her life is no one can say, but if she is happy, loved and is healthy…whatever that is for Mona… saving her was worth every bit of time and energy. 

As of this writing Mona will have her first surgery in about a week.  Her last seizure was over a week and a half ago, thanks to medication. We will continue to monitor her for seizures and adjust the medication as needed.  We are still working on getting the seizures managed to a maximum of one seizure a month.

As I watch Mona play outside: running, jumping, body slamming Cocoa and flipping toys in the air, I relish in the normalcy of the life she is experiencing.  But as I watch Mona play I think of much more than that. I think of what her life has meant.  Because of Mona good people were brought closer together, forged in a unique bond of purpose driven by the love they all shared for a helpless little soul who needed them.  Because of Mona and all that love we gave to her that love energy has spread out much farther than the little pup herself.  We now have Mona’s Miracle Fund where more animals will receive the medical care they need. 

We knocked out the negative, focused on the positive, had faith in each other and got the job done. 

Now isn’t that something.


Date: May 29, 2012
Posted By: Sandy Kamen Wisniewski

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