They are Family: Rescue Makes Lifelong PACT with Death Row, Special Need and 'Simply' Abandoned Pets

They are Family: Rescue Makes Lifelong PACT with Death Row, Special Need and 'Simply' Abandoned Pets
PACT Humane is located in Bloomingdale's Petco, 412 W Army Trail Rd, at the back of the store.

Next in my "Better Know a Rescue" series, it is my great pleasure to introduce PACT Humane Society. While PACT rescues animals from many places, I met them while volunteering at DuPage Animal Care & Control (DCACC) where I often saw them leave with crates of cats and dogs in tow, helping decrease the burden on the county's only open/immediate admission shelter. These "rescue pulls" provide an absolutely essential service in helping decrease euthanasia rates in animal control centers.

Stephanie rescued, then adopted Ella, a deaf puppy who only weighed 4# when she was found as a stray.

Stephanie rescued, then adopted Ella, a deaf puppy who only weighed 4# when she was found as a stray.

I'm speaking here with Stephanie Jenisch, whose PACT hats include adoption counselor, fundraising manager, offsite event coordinator and transport coordinator. (And, oh yeah, she works full time and lives with her own rescued pets as well. You'll hear more about little Ella pictured here in a future post.)

Stephanie, can you give us an overview of PACT?

PACT, which stands for "People and Animals in Community Together", was established in 2000 in Downers Grove. We are a no-kill, all volunteer, not-for-profit humane society and educational organization now operating out of Petco in Bloomingdale as well as through a wide network of foster homes. As a rescue committed to the No Kill movement, we will consider euthanizing an animal only in cases of extreme aggression or extreme poor health conditions which cannot be assisted by medical intervention. We do not euthanize an animal due to old age, costly health care needs, or for the making of cage space. In addition, we actively work with veterinarian offices, animal control facilities and other shelters to retrieve animals slated for euthanasia so that we can offer them a new life through adoption.

So you aren't just pulling the 'easy' animals that will have speedy adoptions...the super fluffy puppies and kittens.  You are willing to take the hard-luck cases that might take a while to find forever homes?

Tasha, selling kisses here, was adopted this summer.

Tasha, selling kisses here, was adopted this summer.

Absolutely! We take in all kinds of animals! We always go where we are needed. The majority of our animals are rescued by PACT after euthanasia dates have already been set for them.  Take Tasha as an example. Tasha came from Southern illinois. She was at animal control from the time she was 4 months old until 14 months, she had a euthanasia date set and we got her the day before. She was very undersocialized with people and dogs as she had very little attention or human interaction for 10 months and no training. She has now been adopted and is loved by her new family. They have her in a training class and she is getting better each week.

PACT Humane Society believes that every animal is adoptable. 

There is a home out there for all animals if we look hard enough. This means that we work hard to place older cats and dogs, those with diseases such as feline AIDS or feline leukemia or cancer, cats or dogs that are missing teeth, an eye or a tail, deaf or blind, or training issues .We have placed all of these animals into wonderful homes.

Is there a dog currently up for adoption that you would like our readers to know about?

Yes! Freedom is about 1 yr old, when he came to us from an animal control in southern Illinois. He is the sweetest boy you'll ever meet.  Despite having had a rough start, he loves life and loves people! He is 65lbs of pure baby! He was very, very underweight and covered in scars. You could see every rib.  He's really been blossoming with us!

Freedom is a 1 y.o. darling available for adoption.

Freedom is a 1 y.o. darling available for adoption.

He had zero confidence when we first got him, wouldn't walk on a leash and if he did he would just lean against your leg. Once Freedom builds his trust with you and understands that you won't hurt him, he will spend his time laying on you (yes, laying right on top of you), following you everywhere (yes, everywhere, including the bathroom) and giving you endless amounts of kisses! He LOVES to play and pester his foster dog brother and sister. He can get a little nervous around kids and too many loud noises so an adult home would be ideal. He is housebroken and really well behaved. All in all... He's the best!

PACT also has quite a few cats. We recently featured Cocoa Puffs, who is still looking for a home.

Adoptable cats holding a group meeting in PACT's free-roaming cat room.

Adoptable cats holding a group meeting in PACT's free-roaming cat room.

One thing that makes us special is our free-roaming cat room. What better way to find your next family member than to come and play in a room with 25 cats? Our cats are allowed to play and lounge as they please, enjoying cubbies, beds, toys, cat trees and more while they await their forever home, unless of course they prefer to not socialize with other cats, are recovering from surgery or illness, or have not been vaccinated yet

Copper was a rescue pull from DuPage Animal Control, now available through PACT.

Copper was a rescue pull from DuPage Animal Control, now available through PACT.

We put a lot of effort in to educating cat owners. For example, PACT Humane Society will not declaw cats. Most people still don't understand that declawing is a surgical amputation of the cat's first knuckle and is considered inhumane by the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the Humane Society of the United States, and many other pet organizations. Declawing is actually outlawed in 20 countries throughout Europe. We strive to educate and even help train prospective adopters on ways to maintain the cat's claws by trimming the nails every few weeks, providing an appropriate clawing post, and using humane training methods such as a water spray bottle.

PACT Humane Society even offers to help trim any cat's nails that is adopted from PACT at no charge.

We also believe all cats should be indoor cats and should not be allowed to go outside unsupervised. Cats face numerous hazards such as poisoning, human cruelty, or getting hit by a moving vehicle. In addition, cats allowed to go outdoors tend to pick-up more diseases and illnesses due to their contact with other outdoor cats who are not properly inoculated. For the well-being of the cat, we ask owners to please keep them indoors. With a little attention to your cats' needs and likes, you can create an indoor environment that keeps your cat healthy, safe, and happy for the entire family.

How does PACT afford care for all its animals?

Tazz is battling numerous health issues that PACT needs to raise funds to address.

Tazz is battling numerous health issues that PACT needs to raise funds to address.

It's not easy! We are supported primarily through fundraisers, adoption fees and small grants but recently we've been hit with some very high vet bills for unexpected medical needs: dogs with spinal issues, kidney failure, things beyond what we normally see. We've started a fundraising campaign to help cover our costs.

Tazz is one of the animals we are trying to help raise funds for. Tazz is doesn't act like it, (despite the photo of him snoozing!) but he is very sick. He is a 9 year old min-pin who has a very severe infection throughout his body, very serious inner ear infections which have cost him some of his hearing, and the beginning stages of renal failure.

How many volunteers do you have? What does it take to keep an organization like PACT on track with its mission to provide No Kill shelter alternatives in our community?

Samantha Guzman giving some love to a timid girl.

Samantha Guzman giving some love to a timid girl.

We have about 200 regular volunteers, including foster homes and management team members (all volunteers). We also welcome volunteers who are required to complete court ordered community service (depending on the offense) and we regularly gain 20-40 high school volunteers a few times a year who need to complete 20 hours of volunteer service for their high school.

While this may seem like a lot, it is not enough! Typically people volunteer for 2 hours a week. Our Petco location is open from 8-8 every day (6 two hour shifts) x 7 days is 42 shifts a week. Each shift, in order to truly have enough volunteers we need at minimum 2 cat volunteers and 4 dog volunteers - 252 volunteers roughly. When you also factor in people calling in sick or unable to come in and the increased demand for events or when all of our kennels are full, we are frequently short on volunteers. It is also important to remember some of those approximately 200 volunteers are only available once or twice a month, or volunteer solely as a foster home.

Additionally, in line with our educational mission, we have several special education school classes who come in with their teachers as part of their school day to volunteer and learn essential job skills. We love working closely with the community and are always interested in building additional relationships with community members and organizations. We have also partnered with elementary schools to hold fundraisers/collection drives and have spoken to classrooms about the importance of responsible pet ownership.
How does your adoption process work?

Peaches started out at DCACC and is now available through PACT

Peaches started out at DCACC and is now available through PACT

Most of our animals reside at our adoption center located in the Bloomingdale Petco, 412 W. Army Trail Rd, where adoption hours are daily from 11-7pm (11-6pm on Sundays). Anyone is welcome to come by and meet our adoptable dogs and cats anytime. For animals in foster care, we will set-up an appointment with the foster home and interested adopters to meet. We require meet and greets prior to adoption for families who already have a dog and we require all of the members of the household to meet the animal before adoption. We have an adoption application to be filled out and reviewed with an adoption counselor. Upon approval, the animal can go home that day! Dogs are required to have a leash and collar and cats must be in a carrier to go home with their forever families.  All of our dogs and cats are spayed or neutered, microchipped, and up to date on vaccines at the time of adoption.

To help set our dogs up for success, we require enrollment in a positive reinforcement dog training class for most of our dogs at the time of adoption.

We are very invested in placing our animals into loving, forever homes where they are happy and healthy. For this reason, we always disclose and share any information we have about our animals with potential adopters in order to help them make the best decision for their families and the animal.

Nicky and Sasha were adopted as kittens and returned to PACT after 9 years when their owner hit hard times.

Nicky and Sasha were adopted as kittens and returned to PACT after 9 years when their owner hit hard times.

Something I personally am most proud of is the fact that once an animal is taken in by PACT, they are a PACT animal for life. We always do our best to place our animals in loving and FOREVER homes, unfortunately that does not always work out as we would like and even 9 or 10 years later we will welcome our animals back if the need arises. Not all rescue organizations will do this, but we are a family.

Case in point, Nicky and Sasha have been with us for some time now, waiting for a new home. They are the pair who were adopted as kittens, litter mates, then surrendered to animal control at age 9 when the owner could no longer care for them. We took them back into our care. We'd love to see them get a home soon.

If someone wanted to provide foster care for you, how would they go about doing that?

Anyone interested in becoming a foster home is welcome to stop into the adoption center any time for an application or email for further information. One of our foster care coordinators will come for a home visit once your application has been reviewed. It is important for our foster homes to live relatively close to Bloomingdale (or be willing to drive) as our vets are located in Bloomingdale and Schaumburg and it is imperative for the foster dogs and cats to come in for adoption shows and events in order to help them find their forever home.

PACT provides all of the necessities and vet care for foster animals, you just provide a safe home and lots of love!!

Foster home opportunities include long term until adoption, short term (3-4 days while recovering from spay/neuter), medical, puppy and kitten foster homes.

And to volunteer?

Anyone interested in volunteering is invited to attend our new volunteer orientation which is held every Thursday night at 6pm at our Bloomingdale Petco adoption center. Please email  for more information! We are always seeking volunteers in all positions including: dog walker, cat room attendant, laundry crew, transport team members, event support, foster families, and fundraising team members.  We welcome families who are interested in volunteering together. Children of all ages are welcome!!! Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Here is an application.

In addition to regular adoption hours, you may also attend PACT's offsite adoption events. The next ones are:

SEPT 5th at Stratford Square Mall
SEPT 12th in the Bloomingdale Septemberfest where they will have a booth
SEPT 19th DuPage Animal Care & Control Fall Fest

To learn more and to view their adoptable animals, find PACT on Facebook or visit their website.
To help PACT get needed medical care for their highest need dogs and cats, please visit Pitching In for PACT. Your willingness to share the word for them is MUCH appreciated. The more support our area rescues receive, the closer we come to achieving a no kill community!
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