Shelby T. Pibble
P.O. Box 163
Ottawa, IL 61350
September 14, 2014

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you today to respectfully request your help. I am a dog with a dream.
In my youth, I’ve valued fun over education. My neighbors at the shelter would show me the various tricks they learned, but I thought my personality and good looks were enough to get by. But my neighbors keep finding homes, and I’m still at the shelter…2 ½ years later. After much reflection sitting alone in my kennel at night, I realized I needed to get serious about life.
I want to go to college.
I’ve tried to do independent study at the shelter, but it’s difficult to focus with all the distractions here. My friend and mentor at the shelter, Brandon, has arranged for me to attend school at a local training facility. It’s an ongoing basic training/socialization program. It sounds like an exciting challenge, and I can’t wait to get started. Brandon thinks a few sessions in this program will help me achieve my goals and become a dog that some family will love to call their own. I really want a family. Brandon has a lot of faith in me, and I want to prove him right.
But, friends, college is expensive. Like most students, I need financial assistance. It’s my goal to raise $500 for my tuition. This will cover about 6 months of schooling. I hate to ask, but it’s very important to my future. Please consider donating to my college fund. You can send a check to the P.O. Box at the top of this letter or donate via PayPal on the shelter website, www.petprojectinc.org. Please reference “Shelby’s College Fund” with your donation. Your donation is tax-deductible too!
Thank you,

Shelby T. Pibble
Pet Project Resident
Shelby2

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Last December, I was browsing through the Petfinder website. My previous dog had passed away in February 2011, and I had decided that our family was ready to move on and get a new dog. My husband, Keith and I had been discussing it for a while but hadn’t come to an “official” agreement yet. But I was looking anyway.

As I was browsing through dogs that were available for adoption, I came across a picture of a goofy looking 4 month old shepherd/hound pup named ‘Junior’. Now when I say goofy looking, I don’t mean there was anything wrong with him. I just mean that his face immediately told me that he was a puppy with A LOT of personality! I was in love! I  forwarded the picture to Keith’s Facebook page. He didn’t reply, so I figured that he wasn’t all that interested in a dog at that point. Feeling a little sad, I continued on with my day.

A couple hours later, Keith called me and told me that he had gone to PPI and met Junior right after I sent him the the message. He asked me if I wanted to go meet Junior after work. Of course I said YES!! So, after I got off work, we ventured over to PPI to introduce our family to Junior. After 5 minutes, I knew Junior would make a wonderful addition to our family. We were able to adopt him right then and there, and take him home that night! From the moment those giant paws ran through our front door, we knew that our home had changed for the better! We named him George and he has become as much of a member of the family as our children are! He went from being a 40lb rambunctious puppy to an over 100lb gentle giant over the past year. He has become a constant companion to me and my Husband, a playmate for our 7 year old, and a protector to our 7 month old. He has a heart big enough to match his paws (which he STILL has not fully grown into), and more patience than I have some days. He’s incredible with the kids, great with the neighbor’s dogs, and offers us hours of entertainment with his goofy antics! It’s rare to find a dog with such a wonderful personality and we consider ourselves very lucky to have found George! We are now discussing adding another pooch to our home and I hope that when we find one, that he/she will be at Pet Project Inc. The staff there is so friendly and it is very clear that they love each and every animal that walks in the door. Thank you for making George’s adoption process such a pleasant one!

~Samantha, Keith, Trevor, Aiden, and George Johnson~

          

    

    

 

Before I started volunteering at Pet Project, I’m not sure I’d ever met a pit bull. But I had an opinion on them. And it wasn’t a good one.

I can remember an instance when a friend of a friend adopted a pittie mix. I remember all of us passing judgment on this new family member, questioning their decision to get “that” dog, when they had a new baby. What were they thinking?

In 2009, my youngest nephew was bitten by a pit bull while visiting a new friend’s house for the first time. At the time, it reinforced my prejudice. Now, I realize it wasn’t fair to blame the incident on the fact that it was a “pit bull”. What I see now is that he was bitten by a dog…an unsupervised, poorly-trained dog…who just happened to be a pit bull.

Last year, I became involved with PPI. And I finally met a pit bull face to face. In fact, I’ve met lots of pit bulls. And guess what? They’re dogs. Just…dogs.

ALL dogs regardless of breed have the potential to hurt someone. ALL dogs must be properly supervised by their guardians. Some can do more damage than others and that is where the problems arise – but it is not the dog’s fault. My friend adopted a mixed-breed puppy when her two daughters were very little. She carefully supervised the girls when they played with Molly and taught them how (and how not) to treat her. She was especially vigilant when other kids came over to play. It never mattered that Molly is a big, lovable sweetheart of a mutt. She’s still a dog, still an animal, still unpredictable.

When I was a kid, I remember Dobermans were the ones with the bad rap. Later, it was Rottweilers. Now, it’s pit bulls. In each case, I’d hear people saying terrible things about the breeds…and generally none of these people were speaking from personal experience. They were merely spreading the hype. We humans have a tendency to stereotype. And it’s the dogs paying the price.

It’s amusing to me now when I remember hearing those terrible things about Dobermans and the fear that existed. You know who the toughest dog in my neighborhood was when I was growing up? The dachshund that lived in the house behind ours. My best friend (Molly’s mom) lived kitty corner behind us, and we would cut through the yards to get to each other’s homes. That dog was like the gatekeeper. One time, my little animal-loving self tried to approach him, only to be warned off by the old man who owned him. Why were we so scared of Dobermans when true 12 pound menaces were lurking about?

I don’t expect writing this to automatically change anyone’s mind. I do hope though that it opens a few. Please, if you are looking to adopt, don’t turn away from a dog just because of its breed. Don’t assume that pit bulls are violent. Don’t assume that a Jack Russell will be hyper. Don’t assume that a Chihuahua will yip incessantly. Please, meet the dog. Then make up your mind.

Bruno…it’s an awfully tough-sounding name for such a sweet guy.  But Bruno IS a tough guy—on the inside.

Bruno came to Pet Project originally as a stray.  He was with us for about 5 or 6 months before being adopted.  He was with his family for about a year before coming back to us this past January.  His family had several dogs…so many that it had become too much for them to handle. 

Owner surrenders always tug at my heart.  I was there the day Bruno was brought back—he was nervous, that was obvious.  I know he had to be confused about his new circumstances.  But here’s where the “tough” part comes in:  He is being as patient as he can be while waiting for his forever family to come along.  Just this past week, he was in his outside kennel while Janice & I were at the perimeter fence.  Two of his “neighbors” were outside too…and they were barking up a storm at us.  But, not Bruno.  He just sat there, calm and curious as to what we were doing.  We said “hi” to him and were rewarded with a wag of his tail. 

Bruno is a 2-3 year old, housebroken(!) shepherd mix.  He is a large, strong dog and will thrive with a family that can provide him with the exercise he needs.  He loves to play and go for walks.  He gets along well with other dogs, but, ideally, he’d probably like to have just one canine sibling to play with.

Come meet this handsome fella—he will steal your heart.

 

It all began one hot, sunny day July 2011.   My dog P.D., returning from a walk with my husband, started sniffing and barking at our bushes that sit up against the front of our house.  Hubby comes into the house to tell me what he & P.D. have discovered – a small, gray tabby mama cat and her kittens, living in our bushes.  I rushed out there to see and sure enough, there she was with these four tiny, newborn kittens.  They were so sweet and so little, not even big enough yet to venture out past their cozy, shady spot in the bushes.  Mama was, of course, very protective so we didn’t disturb them but I knew I had to help them out since they were on their own and I’m sure Mama was scared or nervous now that these humans had discovered her spot where (I’m assuming) she had given birth to these sweet little babies.  As days passed, Mama started getting a little more comfortable and decided to come up and lay on our front porch one rainy morning.  She was SO tiny, probably just a baby herself really.  There was no way she could’ve been more than a year old.  She had these sweet, sleepy eyes that I just fell in love with.

I started putting out food & water for her so she could get regular nourishment and be able to supply those babies with good, nutritious milk.  She began to trust me a little more each day, as I would just sit out there on the front porch, letting her get used to me.  Then finally, one day, she started coming up to me and letting me pet her.  I was on cloud nine that day!  We became fast friends from that point on.  I then put a box with a blanket on the front porch hoping she might bring those sweet kids of hers on up to be more comfy and slowly, she did just that.  And by then the kittens were getting their adventure legs on , hopping around between their safe spot in the bushes, playing on the porch steps and even on up to the porch, nosing around in mama’s food bowl.  By this point, I’d say probably two or three weeks have passed since we first discovered them.  So then, I started putting out wet kitten food for the babies and Mama.  The kittens wanted no part of it while I was out there, even though their mom was trusting and would be up on the porch while I was out there.  But the moment, I’d go back in the house, I would watch out the front door window and here they’d all come to check out what smelled so dang good.  It was SO much fun to watch them.  We developed a little routine every day of them playing and hanging out on the front porch until I’d come out with breakfast or supper and they’d scamper away to the bushes – then I’d go back inside to watch out the front door window to them coming back onto the porch to enjoy the food and water.

In the meantime, I knew how very important it was to get them all spayed/neutered – let alone finding them a place to stay or better yet, a forever home because I knew that even though I was so in love with them all, my house was just too small and we already have 3 dogs & 2 cats of our own.  So I did some checking around and found a place in Mendota (Illinois Valley Cat Taxi) that had a low-cost kitty cat spay/neuter clinic once a month.  So I started working with them via email on helping out this little family to all get the vetting they needed and was lucky enough to have struck up a very reasonable package price for the lot of them, once the kittens were old enough.  They told me I needed to name everyone so for mama, I wanted to name her after the best Mom I could think of, so I named her after my own mom.  And the kittens, I decided that the first thing I thought of when looking at them would be what I named them.  First there was Sundae, who was black with a little bit of white and gold flecks all over.  No one ever got to meet little Sundae because she disappeared after about a month.  We never heard any violent animal sounds like it got attacked so she either wandered off and started a life all on her own or (I like to believe) someone going past our house saw how unbelievably cute she was and just had to have her.   Anyway, we’ll never really know what happened with Sundae.  Second was little Muddy.  She was the smallest of the four.  She was mostly gray tabby with spots of white on her chest, legs and paws with splashes of tan on her face and legs, like she’d been playing in the mud.  That poor sweet little baby is in heaven now.  She ended up getting sick shortly after arriving at the shelter and although the people at the shelter rushed her to the vet, there wasn’t anything they could do.  They said it was basically a ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ type of thing, but for kittens.  I still get a little teary when I think of that sweet Muddy.  Third, we have Sox.  He looked a lot like his sister Muddy but had more white on his feet like he was wearing his socks.  And last but not least is Phantom who is black and white and has a big patch of black over one eye, much like that of the Phantom of the Opera.  He was the biggest of the bunch and the most social although they were all pretty skittish.

 Next, I contacted Janice at Pet Project and explained the whole situation and had asked if I could bring my little friends there, once I got all of their vetting & spay/neutering all squared away and long story short, they gave me the green light.  I was so thrilled that someone was willing to take in this sweet little family, even though there are many other kitties in the same situation all over the place.  But they agreed to take them in, provided I was going to have their vetting and spay/neutering already done.

 Fast forward to spay/neuter day – here comes the “action” portion of our story lol.  We’re supposed to bring each kitty in its own carrier so we got four carriers and had them ready and started our kitten round up, as Maria was easy to get into her carrier with a little food.  But those slippery little kittens were like greased lightening!!  We had NO idea what we were up against because we didn’t start our round up until like an hour before we had to leave for Mendota and it took us a LOT longer than that to finally get them all.  You talk about stressed out!  But even though we knew we were well past the deadline time to be at the vet in Mendota where we had to drop them off, we hit the road anyway in the hopes that there was a small chance someone, anyone would be there to receive Maria & her babies.  We drove like maniacs to get there as fast as we could – me, hubby, step-daughter and four cat carriers with four scared and totally confused kitty cats.  What a car load that was lol.  We finally arrive at the place in Mendota around like 8pm with an empty parking lot and no lights on and of course, a locked door and nobody there.    With the agony of defeat upon us, we headed back to Ottawa tired and more than ready to call it a day.    Now I needed to get a hold of Janice and let her know this horrible turn of events.  She was so so wonderful through all of this, working with me so diligently.  She was a true ally.  Between her and me, we came up with the funds to get everyone vetted at Fox Valley Vet Clinic in Ottawa since they’d missed the boat with Illinois Valley Cat Taxi.  So we decided on a day for hubby and me to bring Maria & Co. to Pet Project and they would take it from there.  They eventually got them all to the vet and all squared away.  Janice was so awesome, constantly keeping me updated on things.   I had a hard time letting them go but I knew I had to so they could eventually go to their forever homes.  Phantom got his forever home first, then mama Maria and finally little Sox who got to stay with his best friend, Pumpkin, that was his buddy at the shelter as the same couple adopted them together!

I’m sooooo happy beyond words that they all have homes now but each time I sit out on my front porch, I still miss them very much.  I look at the spot behind the bushes where my front porch steps meet the house and picture them all huddled together or playing and wrestling or just having quiet feeding time with Mama Maria. 

 This was the first time I had ever fostered any animals and am glad they picked me.  They will always have a special place in my heart forever.

— Camille Lowe

Barney and BeeBop are a tabby duo that arrived at Pet Project in March.  They came in as strays and are most likely truly siblings.  Not only are they absolutely beautiful, they are a great combination of sweet, loving, and playful. 

Barney is a curious guy who likes to be in the middle of the action.  He’s very playful and has made some good friends since being placed in the cat room a few weeks ago.  He’s become good pals with Bubba who is known by the volunteers as the “leader of the pack” in the cat room.  It speaks very highly for Barney that he’s gotten Bubba’s seal of approval.  Since he gets along so well with other cats, he’d likely fit right into a forever home with other feline family members.

BeeBop is one of the cutest cats at Pet Project.  We are all in love with her round, “baby” face.  She’s also very playful.  She gets VERY animated when playing with her toys.  She loves to get attention and has a loud purr that she’s quick to show off when you pet her.  She also gets along well with the other cats in the cat room.  I see her often rub noses with Stevie, another female cat around her age.  Like her brother, I think BeeBop would easily transition to a feline-filled forever home.

Barney and BeeBop are around a year old now, and we desperately don’t want them to grow up at the shelter.  Please consider giving this brother and sister the forever home they deserve.  If at all possible, we would like for them to stay together and offer special rates for multiple cat adoptions.

In my neighborhood, I have a reputation for my deep love and passion for animals, and for being their voice. I try to keep it friendly so I can stay on good terms. It gives me the chance to educate when possible.  I print out flyers with pet care tips and low cost clinics along with the importance of health care, spay/neuter, and other information.  You don’t reach them all, in fact it seems very few, but now and then you do. It’s times like those, that encourage you to keep preaching (lol).  I especially like it when one of the young teens come with their pit bull, that only months ago was ready to breed, and they say “can I have that information on getting my pit fixed again?” Then they bring him/her to you later and show you the suture site with the biggest grin on their face.  That’s how I met Chico, Boysito and their family.  I would see the boys outside with the dogs, and would point out concerns and give tips now and then.  On Halloween, I put together candy bags with information on pet care along with the candy and hand them out to the trick or treaters.  I had extra special bags for my next door neighbors, Chico and Boysito’s kids.  That was in October of 2011. In March of 2012, my husband and I were leaving and I heard the lady next door talking to her son and he seemed upset. We came home later and the house was empty and the landlord was there. My first thought was for Boysito and Chico.  I heard them barking in the garage and found from the landlord that he had evicted the family.  My husband asked about the dogs for me, because the landlord didn’t speak English and he told my husband he didn’t know if the dogs had food or water or if the family was coming back. He wasn’t going in to find out because he was afraid and if the family didn’t come for them in a couple days, he was calling police or animal control.  He gave me permission to enter the garage to check on them. It looked like they were given food and water, but had already finished it in a few hours. I fed, watered, and cleaned up after them while I searched for a group to take them if the family didn’t come back for them. I kept running into one brick wall after another. There was an old queen size mattress leaning on the wall in the garage, so I knocked it over for the dogs to lay on.  Three days later, I came home from work to find the family there.  One of the kids was checking on the dogs.  They came to give more food and water.  I was going out to tell them they had run out of food and water on the first day and that I had been taking care of them.  That’s when I found out they were leaving them again. The Mom said she tried to find family to take her, the kids, and Chico and Boysito in, but nobody would allow the dogs. I informed her of short term fosters that will sometimes help.  She felt this was not an option and asked me to please help find homes for Chico and Boysito.  She said the landlord called and told them to get the dogs out.  I asked if she could get a few more days and I would call places outside Aurora.  Three more days I took care of them and kept trying to find a group to take them.  They were out of time when on 3/28 a rescue group came forward to help me with them.  I was soooo happy! I contacted their human Momma and she came and signed them over to me. I was so happy. The rescue asked me to transport the dogs to a clinic to be neutered, chipped, vaccinated and so on.  Later that night after my son and I dropped them off, the lady from the rescue called with the bad news that she couldn’t take Boysito after all.  She had no fosters or kennels to take him because he looks like he has pit in him.  She felt terrible and so did I.  I expressed my concerns about separating them, after all, they just lost their family, their home, and Boysito seemed very close to Chico. So much so, that he would cry loudly and become very upset when Chico was taken out of his sight. Although I knew the chances of them being adopted together were very slim, I couldn’t bear the thought of tearing them apart without at least trying.  I figured they could at least be slowly weaned apart vs. being suddenly ripped apart all at once. It was a loss for the small rescue group since they get their money back through the adoption fees, but she agreed it would be better for them to stay together even though she wanted to keep Chico and place him through the group. But that left me back at square one, with nobody left to call.  So I started calling the same ones over again, including Pet Project.  I stepped outside with my own dogs to take a break.  I cried, and prayed, and just said God, I let those poor dogs down!  They counted on me and I couldn’t help them. It dawned on me that family was put next to us for a reason, and I thought this was it.  The young boy, maybe early teens, had some personal issues.  Along with his personal issues, he also had lost his Grandma about a year ago, now his home and his dogs.  He felt he had nothing left and I believe that knowing somebody who loves animals so much was fighting for them, gave him some very small amount of comfort.  So it hit me that for that very reason, I knew Chico and Boysito would be ok.  At that same moment, Pet Project called me back!  Between the calls, and the e-mails, the wonderful angels of Pet Project came thru for those precious babies!!  I can never thank them enough! I could never do what they and other rescue groups do every day and night, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.  Cases like this come my way maybe 4 times a year on average and the emotional roller coaster it takes me on is just more heartache than I can stand. So I stand and applaud you angels of Pet Project and all those other rescue groups out there!  I don’t know where Boysito and Chico would be if you didn’t come to their rescue at the last moment. Chico is home with his forever family and I can’t wait for an update on him.  :0)  Boysito is still waiting for his forever family to come take him home, but the pictures Pet Project shares of him being loved on and played with, does my heart so much good. I will never forget what you guys did.

–Ruby Ochoa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started my search for a dog on Petfinder.com.  Anyone who has visited that site knows how difficult it can be to find one dog out of the thousands posted.  I had a list of about 10-15 dogs that I was looking at when I came across one titled “Streator Terrier”.  The picture was a blurry close up of the dog’s face.  I could not tell what size or breed the dog was, but for some reason it caught my attention.  When I opened up the dog’s page, I saw that the dog was going to be euthanized within the next week or so.  Without even thinking twice, I clicked the email link and sent a message saying that I was interested in the dog.  It turned out that Pet Project had set up the page for the dog, who was currently at a kill shelter.  I was informed that Pet Project was going to get a few dogs from the kill shelter, and the Streator Terrier might be one of them.  Once she arrived at Pet Project, I received photos and a video of the dog. The terrier was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  The video brought tears to my eyes, and I knew at that moment that she was my dog.  My list of 10-15 dogs was immediately narrowed down to one.  The next day we made the hour and a half drive to Pet Project to pick her up.  I named my new best friend after my favorite childhood book Stellaluna, because she looks like a bat and the story was very fitting for how she ended up with me.   Stella is now very spoiled and loved so much.  I could not have asked for a more perfect dog.  Finding my little Stella has been the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I am so very thankful that Pet Project posted that picture of her!

— Jennifer England