I have loved animals since I was a little girl. I was always drawn to them, frequently bringing home stray dogs and cats with the goal to help find them homes. Happily, it seems they are drawn to me as well! It is as if they can sense that I will help them, or that they are safe with me – which they are!
As an adult I went back to school when my children were little; my goal was to become a K-8 grade teacher. During my education I needed to give a motivational speech. My professor guided us to think about something we felt passionate about to use as our topic. I immediately thought to raise awareness of the need for animal adoption in our community. Preparing for my speech, I visited Bolingbrook Animal Control, where a previous shelter was co-located. As I interviewed the volunteers I realized just how much more care these animals really needed. I began to volunteer for the organization and soon learned the rapid growth of Bolingbrook, paired with the small size of the current shelter, was not enough for these pets in need. I decided my energy and heart would be focused upon these animals. I worked to open my own arescue (Humane Haven Animal Shelter) with the help of another volunteer, Kathy Satterfield. I am proud to say that Humane Haven Animal Shelter (HHAS) opened in 1999. It took exceptionally hard work and many tears to get where I am today, but it has been worth every step.
At the inception of HHAS, we co-located with the VCA Bolingbrook Animal Hospital. During our residence there, I became employed with them as a receptionist. Over the next two years I trained as a vet tech and surgical tech, then became the Hospital Manager for ten years. I am no longer employed with VCA. Now, my full-time responsibilities are to run the shelter as Co-Founder.
HHAS currently has 103 volunteers to help care for our homeless pets. They divide attention between two facilities. With the generosity of Bolingbrook’s Mayor Claar and Animal Control Supervisor Linda Laketa, HHAS’s main residence is at the Bolingbrook Animal Control facility (housing cats and dogs). Our second location is at Petsmart in Bolingbrook (housing cats only).
We also have a show produced once a month, named “For the Love of Animals,” that I help host. It airs regularly on Bolingbrook Cable TV (BCTV). In it we highlight many of the dogs and cats HHAS has available for adoption while also providing educational information about how to care for pets. I have 3 dogs of my own: Paulie, Daisy, and Lily. They are all Puggles (Pug/Beagle mix) who were rescued by HHAS. There is nothing more rewarding then to be greeted by those loving faces and unconditional love and know that I saved their lives. 🙂
I am so glad I chose that topic of “Adopt, Don’t Shop” for my speech 17 years ago… it changed my whole life! I can’t imagine doing anything else. I deeply enjoy meeting the different people who volunteer to support HHAS. It’s so wonderful to see so many people come together to help homeless pets. It’s also very rewarding to see how much happiness our volunteers find inhelping the strays of their community! Being the Co-founder of this organization is something to be very proud of, AND I AM!! I love what I do.