Photo caption: Representatives from the Will County Humane Society accept a dog park calendar donation check during the Forest Preserve's Board meeting on March 12. From left to right are: Jeremy Ernst, shelter IT volunteer; Malorie Ernst, shelter kennel manager; and Forest Preserve Secretary Mimi Cowan, Board President Kenneth E. Harris and Chief Operating Officer Ralph Schultz. Comet, a dog that is up for adoption at the shelter is in the foreground. (Photos by Chad Merda)
A 2020 calendar highlighting the Forest Preserve District's dog parks and its many canine visitors, as well as the plight of homeless animals, raised almost $6,000 for the Will County Humane Society.
Malorie Ernst, the shelter’s kennel manager, accepted the $5,865 donation check during the March 12 meeting of the Forest Preserve District's Board of Commissioners.
The collaborative project highlighted how much fun the Forest Preserve's off-leash dog parks provide for canines and their owners year-round. But it also detailed animals that had once been homeless and were rescued by the Humane Society.
Each calendar sold raised $10 for the Humane Society. Ernst said the calendar project also raised the shelter's profile in the community.
"We've been around for 50 years, but there are still people who have no idea that we're here," she said. "So it gets our name out there, which helps us help more animals. This money will go a long way, not just for food, but it will also help keep the facility running. We run purely off of donations, so a donation like this goes a long way."
Ernst brought an adoptable blue heeler mix named Comet to the meeting to illustrate the type of dog that is helped by the no-kill shelter. Comet was scheduled to be euthanized at another agency when Will County Humane Society staff rescued him and brought him to their Troy Township location so he could find a family.
Comet is up for adoption at the Will County Humane Society.
The shelter, which is located at 24109 Seil Road in Shorewood, currently has 20 dogs and 60 cats that are available for adoption. "That's the number we're at now, and that keeps growing," Ernst said.
It costs the shelter around $1,000 a month to feed that many dogs, without taking utility or maintenance fees into consideration. That's why the calendar collaboration with the Forest Preserve was so appreciated, she added.
"The more exposure we have, the more animals we can help," Ernst said.
The calendar included dozens of photos of dogs frolicking at the Forest Preserve's dog parks. In all, six dog parks are owned and managed by the Forest Preserve. Locations include Crete Township, Homer Glen, Joliet, Naperville, Shorewood and Wilmington. More than 40 dogs belonging to the District's dog park permit holders were featured in the calendar.
The calendar also profiled some of the dogs who have overcome obstacles to find their forever homes thanks to the Humane Society, the county’s first no-kill shelter, which receives no state or federal funding and relies entirely on donations.
One of the dogs profiled in the calendar was Woodie the Wonder Pup who was found when he was 5 weeks old with severed back feet. The Humane Society found Woodie a home and the dog is doing well with prosthetic back paws.
"We loved featuring so many of the wonderful pups of our dog parks in the calendar, while also helping an organization that does such good in the community," said Laura Kiran, director of marketing and communications for the Forest Preserve.
The 2020 initiative was so successful that the Forest Preserve is already making plans for a 2021 calendar. A casting call for dogs who frequent the District's dog parks will be announced this summer.
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