Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day in downtown Joliet drew plenty of humans and animals on Saturday — including Salsa, a pit mix, and Chips, her Chihuahua pal.
Salsa and fries chilled out under the awning of the Illinois Humane Society NAWS booth with two Mokena Rescue personnel, Becca Keller and Victoria Jakresky.
Jakresky said salsa and chips are a related pair and should be embraced together
“They were found wandering outside together about a year ago,” Jakresky said.
So far, no one has offered them a home, but Keller and Jakresky hoped for interest in the event.
“They are good boys,” Jakresky said.
Some of the highlights of Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day include animal rescues, pet product vendors, face painting, a DJ, a Joliet Police Department K9 demonstration, an animal blessing, a booth balloon animal adoption, a pet fashion show, photo ops with Will County League of Extraordinary Canines & Friends, an appearance by Joliet Police Officer Daniel Willis, a K9 Ady partner, and appearances University of Saint Francis mascot Bernie the St. Bernard and Joliet Slammers Spikes mascot.
But Paws’ main goals for 66 Pet Rescue Day were to raise awareness and donate for rescues, and then connect people and pets to foster or adopt, said Vicki Sanchez, head of marketing and events. for the Joliet City Center Partnership.
“Well, the number of rescues has increased during the pandemic and there are a lot of animals available for adoption. That’s why we can’t continue this event,” Sanchez said. “There are so many animals pets who need a home. And it’s just an opportunity for people to meet them in person and see if they’re a good fit.
Sanchez said she recently adopted a dog herself – Sydney – a 10-month-old who is part Beagle and part Aussie Cattle Dog.
The animals in these nonprofit, volunteer-run rescues come from a variety of places: kill shelters, owners who have mistreated their pets, or owners who simply can’t care for their pets anymore, said Sanchez.
“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 to find foster families, which are needed,” Sanchez said.
Angela Borrelli of Manhattan-based animal shelter Forget Me Not said adoptions actually increased in 2020 when more people worked remotely. But then they plummeted in 2021 and 2022 as people returned to work in the office and their dogs suffered from separation anxiety.
Additionally, Borrelli said Forget Me Not accepts senior pets and animals with health issues into its rescue. Some rescue operations cannot do this due to the higher cost of medical care. That’s on top of those spontaneous costs, like when a cat falls off a cat tree, Borrelli said.
Also, it may take longer to find permanent homes for these pets, she said.
But Borrelli has a good reason for accepting these animals.
“If not me, then who?” Borrelli asked.
Dulce Garcia, with four children and her dog Chispita, came specifically looking to adopt. Garcia’s other dog died of cancer last year. Chispita would like a mate, Garcia said.
“My daughter wants a kitten,” Garcia said. “But I have asthma.”
Crystal Mims, director of the SNIP Company Hospital in Joliet, showed attendees how to play her life-size Operation-style game. In addition to spaying and low-cost sterilization, Mims said SNIP offers other affordable services.
“We do dental work now and have held offsite vaccination clinics,” Mims said.
Monique Budzynski from Joliet was there with her mix of Prince pit bulls. But Budzynski was just surfing and not 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 them all from Romeoville-based pet adoption agency Perfect Poochers and attended Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day to support the rescue.
“I help to assemble, to disassemble. Whatever is necessary,” Jones said.