A new organization is working in Chicago to keep pets with their families by providing financial assistance during tough times. The Six Legs Foundation will be kicking off their venture this week with a party/fundraiser aimed at launching their efforts in Chicago. What is very cool about this community is that it’s online and it’s ability to help reaches beyond a single neighborhood.
“There are people out there who are struggling and they love their dogs. Sometimes these people can't afford things like dog food or a surgery that their dog really needs and the dogs end up in the shelter,” says Heather Owen, one of the founders of the organization. “This hurts everybody. It hurts the owner who loves their dog, it hurts the dog who loves their owner, and it really hurts our already overburdened animal shelters.”
Keeping pets and families together
In our shelters, there are too many homeless pets and not enough adopters to take them in. When shelters run out of space, animals needlessly die and the cycle starts all over again. Without dedicated rescues, the two rescued spokesdogs of the Six Legs Foundation may not have had their own happy endings.
Now, Fifty the Two Legged Pit Bull and Rude Dog's Trashcapades – two dogs with a total of six legs – have important jobs to do to get the word out about the Six Legs Foundation and its programs. In the meantime, the heavy lifting behind the scenes is being done by their moms Kelly Michael and Owen.
“Both dogs have amassed quite a following on Facebook, so we decided to use this community of dog lovers to do something great,” says Owens. “It's been really fun to see everyone rally behind the dogs. They really trust Fifty and Rudie, which may sound bizarre, but it's just a reflection of our community wanting to do good and searching for that outlet. We're happy to be that outlet that helps people support their community.”
The Six Legs Foundation is modeled after a few local programs including Downtown Dog Rescue's shelter intervention and One Tail at a Time's local vet assistance fund. Owen is also one of the founders of One Tail at a Time. So far Six Legs Foundation has helped families with everything from dog food to extensive knee surgery. The story nearest to Owen’s heart right now is Armani the rescued pit bull.
Helping special families
“He's a service dog and really just an amazing animal. He tore his ACL and his mom was just beside herself thinking he was in pain and she couldn't afford to fix it,” adds Owen. “My heart sinks when I think what could happen to him in a shelter, both for Armani and for his family. So we got him his knee surgery and he's already on the road to recovery. That just perfectly summarizes our mission.”
Owen adds that keeping pets in loving homes is the most humane and most economical option for everyone. To help more families keep their pets, The Six Legs Foundation needs donations. As little as $10 a month – which is skipping a few lattes a month – quickly adds up and helps save lives.
You can also help out by attending the Six Legs Foundation’s official Chicago Launch Party on Thursday from 7 to 10 at Fairways Chicago at 1141 West Armitage. The $45 admission includes beer, wine, some small plates and lots of fun and cool auction items. It’s a great way to get in the swing of spring while helping a new charity get rolling.
“I want to add how amazing this journey has been. We've been overwhelmed by the success of the organization and the support,” adds Owen. “We have something really incredibly special here and we're just so thankful that we get to pursue it. I hope people understand that we're just the vessel, and the support, donations and love we get from them is what makes up the group.”
I’ve met Kelly Michael and Fifty and have been covering Heather Owen’s work for a couple of years. They’ve done so much more than rescue dogs. They’ve combined sources for community pet days and they are all great pit bull advocates. So it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve all teamed up to start another great organization aimed at helping keep pets out of shelters. And, I’m not the only one.
A few weeks ago, I met the woman from Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus that first rescued Fifty. She said she didn’t quite know what to think when she got a call from animal control to rescue a pit bull with just two legs. Once she met Fifty, she couldn’t resist taking him into her rescue because she thought his stellar personality was destined to do great things. When she met Kelly Michael as a potential adopter, she felt the sky would be the limit for this pair…and she was right.
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