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Marching for a MIRACLE

Linder hopes her 300-mile walk can save shelter

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 2:37 p.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

SHOREWOOD — Kendra Linder of downstate Illinois loves what she does for a living — saving unwanted dogs, and sometimes cats, from being euthanized. Every year the Cache Creek Animal Rescue in Anna, Ill. takes in as many as 1,000 dogs that many might consider unworthy of saving.

Linder and her co-workers see the possibilities in dogs that others don’t, whether it’s a 13-year-old Cocker Spaniel with glaucoma or a heartworm-positive Lab. And every one of them deserves a loving home to live out their lives, said Linder.

Linder is so passionate that she took on what she calls a “last-ditch effort” to save the falling-down buildings which have also flooded that house the animals at Cache Creek while they wait to be adopted.

Linder set out to walk the 300 miles from Anna to the PetCo store in Shorewood, which holds frequent adoption events, to raise $100,000 to re-build the shelter. The route is the same ones the animals travel weekly hoping to be adopted.

“We have a wonderful support group in the Shorewood area,” said Linder. “Without them we wouldn’t be able to do it (adopt out).”

Linder’s goal was to walk 15 to 20 miles a day. When things got too rough, people logged in their own miles and “donated” them to the cause. Waitresses at the Country Cupboard in Anna wore pedometers; students at Ira Jones Middle School in Plainfield walked and donated miles.

Along her route, a man stopped and offered her a ride. He didn’t look like he had much himself, Linder said, but when she explained her mission, he dug into his pocket and gave her $2.

“I am so appreciative to everyone,” she said, as she fought off tears in a phone interview.

Linder arrived at PetCo on Sunday, March 10 to a crowd of supporters. Balloons were launched into the air in honor of the pets that have been adopted and in memory of those that couldn’t be saved.

“It was to symbolize everyone we have had to leave behind,” Linder said. “It meant the world to me.

“It was overwhelming seeing everybody,” she said. “I cried a lot.”

But Linder’s journey is bittersweet. Although she walked over 200 miles of it, she raised only $11,000 of the $100,000 needed to save the shelter.

“I knew we didn’t come anywhere near what we need,” she said. “We are really still in harm’s way.”

Cache Creek is different from most rescues in that it takes in just about any dog it feels can be adopted once it receives proper medical care, regardless of its age, its health or desirability.

Twice a week, Linder and co-worker Donna Hawk travel to kill shelters and pounds in nearly a dozen counties near Anna to pick up as many dogs as they can take in. Some weeks it’s just a few. One week, they picked up 42 dogs in two days.

They get calls from as far away as Missouri, Kentucky and Alabama and are willing to travel to see if they can save a life.

They rely on other no-kill shelters in the area that are willing to take the more adoptable dogs, like cute puppies and purebreds. And they have a website and Facebook page that people can browse.

“We let some of the other shelters pick what they want,” said Hawk. “But I don’t care. It’s something to get them out of the (dog) pounds.”

Animals are brought up to Will and Grundy counties because there is such a huge problem downstate, said Hawk.

Several counties there don’t have animal control agencies and dogs are frequently left to fend for themselves.

In the most southern tip of the state, the town of Cairo was evacuated in 2011 because of flooding. In an attempt to save dogs left in fenced yards, they were let out onto the street by police, Hawk said. People didn’t come back for their pets and many still run wild.

Hawk worked for an animal control agency for 14 years, so she knows what they go through. Cache Creek has a good relationship with those they work with.

Linder is uncertain about the future of Cache Creek and fears it will either have to close or drastically reduce the number of animals it can take in, which breaks her heart.

“I am trying to be optimistic that our miracle is just around the corner,” she said.

Hawk is more optimistic. People have come forward to volunteer in different ways — from contractors willing to donate time to someone willing to write grants and do PR.

There is a long way to go, said Hawk, but there are more fundraisers planned and she wants to keep moving ahead.

Even if just $50,000 can be raised, Hawk believes they have a chance. They would have to scale back on the size of the facility and keep using a few of the movable structures they have that aren’t falling apart.

“I am optimistic,” Hawk said. “There are a lot of emotions going on right now.”

The hardest part of the job for Linder is walking out of a shelter or pound and seeing the little faces of the dogs they have to choose to leave behind because they can’t take everyone.

“You know when you walk out the door they won’t be around anymore,” Linder said. “If we would have raised the money we need, we wouldn’t have to make those decisions anymore.”

To learn more, go to  www.facebook.com/cache.creek.5or their website at http://cachecreekanimalrescue.com/home.In the most southern tip of the state, the town of Cairo was evacuated in 2011 because of flooding. In an attempt to save dogs left in fenced yards, they were let out onto the street by police, Hawk said. People didn’t come back for their pets and many still run wild.

Hawk worked for an animal control agency for 14 years, so she knows what they go through. Cache Creek has a good relationship with those they work with.

Linder is uncertain about the future of Cache Creek and fears it will either have to close or drastically reduce the number of animals it can take in, which breaks her heart.

“I am trying to be optimistic that our miracle is just around the corner,” she said.

Hawk is more optimistic. People have come forward to volunteer in different ways — from contractors willing to donate time to someone willing to write grants and do PR.

There is a long way to go, said Hawk, but there are more fundraisers planned and she wants to keep moving ahead.

Even if just $50,000 can be raised, Hawk believes they have a chance. They would have to scale back on the size of the facility and keep using a few of the movable structures they have that aren’t falling apart.

“I am optimistic,” Hawk said. “There are a lot of emotions going on right now.”

The hardest part of the job for Linder is walking out of a shelter or pound and seeing the little faces of the dogs they have to choose to leave behind because they can’t take everyone.

“You know when you walk out the door they won’t be around anymore,” Linder said. “If we would have raised the money we need, we wouldn’t have to make those decisions anymore.”

To learn more, go to  www.facebook.com/cache.creek.5or their website at http://cachecreekanimalrescue.com/home.

———

UP THE CREEK?

According to its website (www.cachecreekanimalrescue.com), Cache Creek Animal Rescue pulled 1,026 animals last year, and 800 were placed in their forever homes. Over 3,000 animals were spayed or neutered in 2012 by the facility. To help with Cache Creek’s economic situation, Chili’s Restaurant locations in Morris, Naperville, New Lenox, Plainfield and Shorewood will donate 10 percent of your purchase, excluding taxes, to the shelter if you bring in a vocher that can be found on the Cache Creek website. The offer is valid through March 31. Donations can also be made directly to the shelter on its website.

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