LIBERTYVILLE – Animal Education and Rescue is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.
The foster-based nonprofit humane society, which serves Lake County and the surrounding areas, has saved about 900 animals since its founding.
Sandy Kamen Wisniewski started AEAR to honor the death of her dog and fulfill a lifelong dream of rescuing animals on a big scale.
While AEAR’s usual rescues are dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds, Wisniewski has welcomed pet rats, sugar gliders, reptiles, hedgehogs, chinchillas, hermit crabs, chickens, geese and a duck to AEAR.
“One of the funniest experiences was taking in a duck for 48 hours,” Wisniewski said in a news release.
On average, AEAR has 40 to 75 animals in its care.
“The number of animals we can take in depends on foster availability,” Wisniewski said. “We have two major challenges. The first is finding foster homes. The second is finding animal hospitals that will work within our budget.”
While reminiscing about the past 20 years, Wisniewski said her most heartwarming story happened last year. AEAR rescued a pregnant, abused and terrified dog who she named Flower.
When Flower gave birth, one of the puppies (also known as Flower’s buds) was born without front legs. Blossom’s prognosis was unknown, but with 24/7 care and lots of TLC, she thrived. Blossom’s story went viral and within a short time her Facebook page had 7,000+ followers all over the world.
Wisniewski and her husband, Chuck, adopted Flower and Blossom. Blossom often accompanies Wisniewski at fundraisers and adoption events. Their story inspired Wisniewski to write a book, “Flower, Her Buds and a Special Little Blossom,” available on Amazon.
Although AEAR is known in the community as an animal rescue, its main purpose is to educate and assist the public with animal-related welfare and problems.
“We educate the public on animal care, resources and emergencies,” Wisniewski said. “We also provide educational programs to the public in person and online.”
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, AEAR relies on donations, adoption fees, fundraisers, fosters and volunteers.
To learn more about AEAR or view adoptable pets, visit. www.aear.org and follow https://www.facebook.com/aear.org.