Check out this month’s featured local rescue, K9 4 Keeps! We got a chance to chat with founder, professional dog trainer and Bark Avenue Playcare owner Daniel McElroy and some of the other co-founders, volunteers and board members about their wonderful work and their unique approach to rescuing and re-homing pets.

“K9 4 KEEPS believes that bringing a dog into your family should be forever. For keeps. We are a 100% volunteer run, 501(c)(3)  non-profit organization dedicated to dog rescue. We believe rescue should begin with education and counseling of dog owners regarding proper handling and training of their dogs to support positive, forever relationships. K9 4 KEEPS dogs are surrendered by their owners  or rescued from Chicagoland area kill shelters and are provided vetting, housing, foster and adoption services.”

As the founders, how did you decide that you wanted to start K9 4 Keeps and what is your rescue’s mission? 

We saw a need and thought that we had great contacts and a network of strong, dedicated people who could contribute. We are working within our group of contacts built over the years, from trainers, business owners and dog lovers to do what we can to help.

Were you previously involved with animal rescue or volunteer work before starting K9 4 Keeps or was this your first foray into the world of pet rescue?

Yes. All of our board members have volunteered in some way with other groups.

What do you feel sets K9 4 Keeps apart from other local rescues?

Working in conjunction with Bark Avenue Playcare, Inc, we have access to many resources that enable us to set our dogs up for success in their new homes. Also, we work with owners who may want to surrender their dogs and we help them with issues. In some cases, we can help people keep their dogs. That’s what K9 4 Keeps is all about.

With so many rescues throughout Illinois, how did you decide on an all breed rather than breed specific rescue? 

Speaking for myself only, I detest breed specific rules and legislation. I apply that logic to rescue as well.

Do you have any pets at home of your own or any current foster pets? 

Yes. We all have dogs of our own and usually a few fosters between us.

What’s the hardest thing about rescue work?

Daniel: Education is critical and is somewhat lacking from dog owners in general. Too many people just don’t understand all the factors that go into rescue. We have gotten calls from people complaining that our adoption fee ($250.00) is too high. When we take a dog and the medical expenses alone are 2-3 thousand dollars, the adoption fee doesn’t seem so high. Reminds me of an old saying. “There is no such thing as a free puppy.”

Caroline:  I think the hardest part of rescue is doing everything you can to help while knowing how many dogs out there still need rescued.  The sheer volume of dogs in this country that need help, especially right within our city limits, is overwhelming.

Tim: Turning down a dog is very difficult. I know every day there are great, loving dogs that are put down because there isn’t enough room, money or interest in them. We would love to be able to save them all, but financially/logistically/logically we simply can’t do enough. We do our best to find homes for the dogs we have and hope that we can bring together as many homeless dogs and loving families as we can. As a rescue, we can only make a small impact but rescues working together as a community can accomplish far greater success.

Amy: The perception of rescue work vs the reality of rescue work can be tough for some to grasp. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns…it is hard work, we have good days, bad days and days we feel like we aren’t doing enough to make a difference. Remaining focused on our mission is what keeps me going through it all. It’s seeing the happy dogs and families that we connect. The story “The Boy and the Starfish” fits perfectly here. No, we can not save them all, but for the ones we can…we’ve made a difference in their lives and their new family’s.

How can interested potential volunteers become involved with K9 4 Keeps?

Visit our website and fill out the volunteer application.  We can ALWAYS use volunteers in various ways!

K9 4 Keeps always has lots of great events and fundraisers going on so be sure to check out all their upcoming events on their event calendar.

You can also follow K9 4 Keeps on FACEBOOK!

Check out their next “Charity Ham-Bingo” event at Hamburger Mary’s on Sunday April 6th at 8pm!

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