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Joliet’s Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day: a pawsitive way to connect people and pets

Events manager: ‘There are so many pets in need of homes.’

Wren is a 6-month-old English bulldog sporting a pink skirt. Wren is currently undergoing heart worm treatment and is one of the animals up for adoption during Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day on Saturday in Joliet.

Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day in downtown Joliet attracted plenty of humans and animals on Saturday – including Salsa, a pit mix, and Chips, his Chihuahua buddy.

Salsa and Chips were chilling under the booth awning for NAWS of Illinois Humane Society with two staff members from the Mokena rescue, Becca Keller and Victoria Jakresky.

Jakresky said that Salsa and Chips are a bonded pair and need to be adopted together

“They were found together wandering outside about a year ago,” Jakresky said.

So far, no one has offered them a home, but Keller and Jakresky were hoping for interest at the event.

“They’re good boys,” Jakresky said.

Among the highlights from Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day: pet rescues, vendors with pet-related products, face painting, a DJ, a Joliet Police Department K9 demonstration, a pet blessing, a balloon animal adoption booth, a pet fashion show, photo ops with Will County League of Extraordinary Canines & Friends, an appearance by Joliet Police Officer Daniel Willis a K9 partner Ady, and appearances by University of Saint Francis mascot Bernie the St. Bernard and Joliet Slammers mascot Spikes.

But the main goals of Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day were to raise awareness and donations for the rescues and then connect people and pets for fostering or adoption, Vicki Sanchez, marketing and events manager for the Joliet City Center Partnership, said.

“Well, the amount of rescues has been increasing during the pandemic and there are a lot of available animals up for adoption. So that’s why we can’t not continue this event,” Sanchez said. “There are so many pets in need of homes. And this is just an opportunity for people to actually get to meet them in person and see if they’re a good fit.”

Sanchez said she herself recently adopted a dog – Sydney – a 10-month-old who is part beagle and part-Australian cattle dog.

The animals in these nonprofit, volunteer-run rescues come from a variety of places: kill shelters, owners who mistreated their pets, or owners who simply can’t care for their animals anymore, Sanchez said

“The vet bills for these rescues are extraordinary, especially if an animal comes to them injured,” Sanchez said.

“And on top of that, these rescues are struggling with finding foster families, which are necessary,” Sanchez said.

Angela Borrelli of the Manhattan-based animal rescue Forget Me Not said adoptions actually increased during 2020 when more people were working remotely. But they then dipped in 2021 and 2022 as people returned to in-office work and their dogs experienced separation anxiety.

In addition, Borrelli said Forget Me Not accepts senior pets and animals with health issues into its rescue. Some rescue operations can’t do that because of the higher cost of medical care. That’s on top of those spontaneous costs, such as when a cat falls out of a cat tree, Borrelli said.

Also, it can take longer to find permanent homes for these pets, she said.

But Borrelli has one good reason for accepting these animals.

“If not me – then who?” Borrelli asked.

Dulce Garcia, with four children and her dog Chispita, came out specifically looking to adopt. Garcia’s other dog died from cancer last year. Chispita would love a companion, Garcia said.

“My daughter wants a kitten,” Garcia said. “But I have asthma.”

Crystal Mims, hospital manager for the SNIP Society in Joliet, showed attendees how to play its life-sized Operation-style game. In addition to low-cost spay and neutering, Mims said SNIP offers other affordable services.

“We do dental now and we’ve been holding some offsite vaccine clinics,” Mims said.

Monique Budzynski of Joliet was there with her pit bull mix Prince. But Budzynski was simply browsing and wasn’t looking to adopt another dog.

“I have three,” Budzynski said with a smile.

Laurie Jones of Steger also has three dogs: Nemo, Yzmas and Chloe. Jones adopted all of them from the Romeoville-based animal adoption agency Perfect Poochers and attended Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day to support the rescue.

“I help set up, take down. Whatever is needed,” Jones said.