On June 1, 2012 it will be 10 years since I started at Pet Project. I have seen many cats and dogs come and go. When I hear some of the stories of how the animals cam to the shelter I am very sad for what they had to go through. But they respond quickly to the love and care they get at the shelter until they are able to be placed in a new home. It is scary to think what would happen to these animals without Pet Project. Many people say they couldn’t do this because they would want to take all of the animals home. True I do want to take them all home – but I know that I can’t so I do what I can for them. I go home feeling good that they got a walk and some attention. Believe me they appreciate it! This is a great way to get your exercise along with a little puppy love.

– Marilyn Alexander

I moved to Ottawa in 1997.  I quickly learned about a local shelter in Grand Ridge called Pet Project.  Since I always like to support “local” shelters, I began by donating money at Christmas and donating items.  I felt as if my heart would be broken every day if I actually did any hands on volunteering. I did not think I would be able to handle it emotionally.  I started taking some photographs of the animals for a favor for a previous board member to put up on Petfinder.  Started out slow, my husband calls it “mission creep”, and then when I saw how much it helped to have great pictures on Petfinder to draw people in to adopt these amazing cats and dogs, I wanted to get photos of EVERY dog or cat that came through and right away.  I knew the sooner I could get them up on line, the sooner they may be adopted.  Then I realized I had a video feature on my camera and began taking videos.  We got really good feedback from the videos, so I continue to do them for every cat or dog and I really enjoy it.

Of course now I had a chance to interact with all the cats and dogs and got to see what a safe haven Pet Project was for these animals, it became easier and easier to visit the shelter.  I had always pictured shelters to be dark, scary places where animals looked sick and pitiful.  Pet Project is not like that.  The dogs have large indoor/outdoor kennels with comfy beds in them. They also get to go outside in a fenced in area where they can run and just be a dog.  There are also WONDERFUL dog walkers that volunteer that constantly walk them. The cats are able to be loose in the cat room and there are people that volunteer to visit with them and give them the love they need. They have shelves, beds, cat condos and lots of places to nap or just hang out.

Now I enjoy helping out with the adoption events as much as I can, too.  There are some behind the scenes type of things that I do, like call or email people that have adopted pets to see how their pet is adjusting to their new home and help monitoring the Facebook page and email.  So you see there are many, many ways anyone can help and volunteer for Pet Project.  And I would like to say to anyone who is reluctant to volunteer at a shelter, it is the most rewarding experience and to know you helped a dog or cat in some way makes it all worth it.  It is also fun to hang out with people that love animals as much as I do.  I have to say I am so happy I got talked into volunteering at Pet Project!!

– Janice Wolfe

 My first visit to Pet Project was in January of 2010.  My sister and nephew had been volunteering there for several weeks, and I decided to join them.  I had recently lost my beloved cat of over 10 years, so it was an emotional experience for me.  I knew I wanted to adopt another “baby”, but I wasn’t certain I was ready.  Well, one kitty in particular made that decision for me.  After I had finished the necessary cleaning in the cat room, I sat down and let myself be surrounded.  So many wonderful kitties came up demanding my attention, giving as much love as they were getting in return.  One small black cat overtook my lap and wouldn’t budge.  I wanted to stand up, but he was having none of it.  He gripped my jeans, then climbed up my chest, around my shoulders…he was determined not to let me let him go.  While he was perched on my shoulder, I said to my sister “Yeah, I guess this is the one!”  Known as Jethro while he was at PPI, Wrigley has now become my constant companion and is such a gentle, sweet cat.

Since that time, I have become a passionate supporter of PPI.  They are a wonderful organization, with a staff of amazing volunteers all sharing the same goal: to give these animals a second chance at being part of a family.  Since I live in Joliet, I’m unable to be at the shelter as much as I would like, but I visit when my schedule permits.  It’s such a loving place, and I enjoy giving the animals some much deserved love and attention.  Additionally, I help out with answering email and administrating the Facebook and Twitter pages.  I wish I could do more.

Being somewhat of an “insider”, I’m also aware of some of the heartbreaking stories behind our residents.  These innocent animals deserve every second chance we can give them.

– Joyce McCollum

We treat our volunteers right at Pet Project Inc! 3 squares a day, tidy living quarters, and LOTS of nice friends!



“I adopted my dog Sesame from PPI in 2007 when she was just 16 months old. Sesame came from Streator and her prior owners did not have her spayed. When she became pregnant at 8 months, the owners decided to use her for target practice and try to kill her. Luckily a local police agency was able to intervene and Sesame had her puppies (which were adopted out) and she ended up at PPI. When I went to PPI in October of 2007 we had just lost the family dog that we’d had for 10 years to cancer and I was just going “to look.” When I arrived with my mom Mary Driscoll had me look at a few of the dogs in their play area. She encouraged me to play with them and she listened to my mom talk about how sad our family was at the loss of our other dog. We were there for 2 hours and we ended up meeting a special little girl name Sesame. She kept coming up to the kennel door and trying to get my attention, she was so funny to watch. She was a wonderful dog to get in a time of sadness because she was able to make all of us smile. She also did so well in my apartment with me working full time–Mary knows the dogs and knows what they act like.

Today Sesame is 5 1/2 and a healthy, happy dog in the Peoria area. She is a wonderful girl that loves tennis balls, “walk-rides,” the dog park, and ice cream. Sesame is so smart–she has a lot of words and she will cock her head in recognition to her words. She has her Canine Good Citizen and is a certified therapy dog in Peoria, Illinois. I still donate to Pet Project on a fairly regular basis because they are a wonderful organization that serves our community. Sesame is also the proud sister of Blitz a 10 year old former foster dog that was recently adopted.”

– Alyssa Emanuelson

“On September 3, 2011 my husband and I adopted Rosie, a one year old female mix, from Pet Project Inc.  Earlier that morning, while on Facebook I came across a friend’s post about another dog needing to find a home. Somehow, this post lead me to Pet Project Inc’s website.   I saw a picture of Rosie and liked her instantly.  I’m not sure why, maybe it was her ears that were too big for her head, maybe it was the video I saw where she was giving everyone kisses, but whatever the reason, I liked her.  I read she had been at Pet Project for over a month, even though I believed she would have been adopted out by now, I emailed Pet Project inquiring about Rosie.

About two years ago, I lost my dog, Melee.  As Melee grew, her heart didn’t, and eventually it wasn’t large enough to sustain her adult size.  We replaced her soon, with a wonderful dog, Nika, but something was still missing for me.

I couldn’t wait for an email response from Pet Project Inc letting me know if Rosie was still available, I had to go see for myself.  My husband and I drove to Marseilles in hail and rain, just so I could see.  We met Mary and another friendly volunteer at Pet Project Inc.  Mary brought Rosie to us and she immediately greeted us with kisses.  I think this is the moment I no longer liked Rosie, but fell in love with her.  We adopted Rosie the same day and she came with us to her forever home.

A couple days later, it was my 12 year old daughter (Emily) turn to meet Rosie.  Of course, Rosie greeted Emily with a million kisses and Emily fell on the ground laughing with Rosie now on top of her.  My daughter’s eyes filled with tears as she read the dog tag that said in part “Owner:  Emily”.

We couldn’t ask for a better dog than Rosie.   In fact, teasingly my husband will say that I’ve made two great decisions in the 15 years we’ve been together, the first was marrying him and the second was adopting Rosie.

Mary couldn’t tell us much about Rosie’s past, because she had been a stray, turned over to Pet Project Inc by veterinarian Dr. Novak, a vet who has offices in both Streator and Ottawa.  It is obvious to us that the people at Pet Project not only provided the basic needs for Rosie i.e. food and water, but also the emotional ones that helped make Rosie a great dog.

It may sound silly, but the little thing that had once been missing has now been filled by Rosie.  Thanks Pet Project Inc!

Pet Project Inc is a much needed resource to the LaSalle community.  Not only do the provide care to the animals in their shelter until they are adopted out, they bring smiles to families that adopt.”

Sherry Meine

“Hi my name is Kelly and my family and I adopted SIDEWAYS (pup) from PPI and it has changed our lives! They post the best videos of the animals!!!! My family and I watched the videos before going there and saw “Buddy Love” (nickname I, his mommy gave him) and fell in love with him!!! PPI does a wonderful job in taking care of these animals until they find their new family. We are so very grateful for them and our lives would not be the same without them doing such a wonderful job because we would not have Sideways!!!!!  As soon as we walked in you could see the animals were very well taken care of and LOVED!!!! That I believe makes all the difference when an animal goes through such trauma as our Sideways did.



“As an animal lover, I have always supported no-kill shelters. Pet Project is one of my personal favorites. Non-profit organizations such as this are necessary for the survival of countless animals in the area, and without them, innocent lives would be lost. I have volunteered at Pet Project in the past. It was such a rewarding experience. To help so many animals in just a few hours of my time was heartwarming.  It was admittedly sad to see just how many precious animals are homeless and had been abused, abandoned, neglected, etc., but PPI gives them a chance at finding love and companionship in their fur-ever homes.

When I volunteered there, I got a chance to play with all of the dogs, one at a time, at the shelter in the play area.  It was so fun to socialize and bond with each one and learn their personalities. Without Pet Project, hundreds of helpless, lonely pets would be euthanized.  Perhaps the saddest part is that no matter what their story, these animals would never have been given a chance or a say-so.

To say that the people at PPI are loving, caring and dedicated is a major understatement.  They are very friendly and give their all to help each dog or cat find his or her family.  Their dedication makes a huge difference in the community and in the lives of the pets.  Not only do the pets find love and happiness, but so do their new families.  The animals have a place where they can feel safe and loved. The people at the shelter have each pet’s best  interest at heart, and do everything they can to nurse them back to health.

I remember one dog, Boo, who had been beaten and neglected.  She was extremely thin and fragile, with many injuries, wounds, etc. However, with the help of PPI, she was able to totally turn her life around, get adopted, and finally be loved and cared for by her new family.  There are countless success stories, and surely many more to come. As I mentioned before, Pet Project is a non-profit organization that is run by volunteers.  They take the responsibility of caring for the animals and the shelter, and ensuring the pets’ happiness and well-being.  They further carry out their responsibilities by taking the initiative to have every animal that comes into the shelter spayed or neutered to prevent future strays.  The adoption fees are strictly to cover those costs, and all monetary donations to the shelter are used to benefit the animals.

Because my family and I feel so strongly that PPI is an essential part of the community, we donate toys, collars, money, etc. to the organization at Christmas time.  We feel that because it is such a fantastic organization and can use all the help it can get, they definitely deserve as many donations as possible.  PPI making a difference in the lives of so many. Regardless of where Pet Project is, though, as long as it is still around, it will continue making a major positive impact in the lives of people and pets alike.”

Sam Simpson

 “I love Pet Project because they helped me pick out my first dog. I brought home Snert (now Jax) in 2010. He is awesome! We love him very much! PPI helped me decide which dog would suit my family of 3 kids under 3.  They were great!”

Jessica Vanduzen