Local pet rescue nonprofit wins minivan
Lake Zurich Dawn Kemper, founder and director of Young At Heart Pet Rescue, holds the keys to a new Toyota Sienna minivan. Her nonprofit won the van Monday from Arlington Toyota in the car maker's "100 Cars for Good" program. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 5, 2012 6:42AM
LAKE ZURICH — Although thousands of nonprofit organizations from across the country applied to Toyota’s “100 Cars for Good” contest giveaway earlier this year, only 500 made the cut to the final round — and only 100 of those were deemed winners by the thousands that voted on Facebook.
Local nonprofit Young At Heart Pet Rescue was voted the most deserving in its round, and its representatives were excited to accept their brand new Toyota Sienna minivan Monday from Arlington Toyota of Palatine.
Lake Zurich resident Dawn Kemper, the executive director of Young At Heart, explained that the minivan will allow the agency to rescue and transport more animals to and from their destinations.
“Instead of having a couple of the volunteers’ cars, we now have a vehicle that can fit half a dozen dogs or a dozen cats in it at one time,” Kemper said.
Young At Heart Pet Rescue is a Palatine-based nonprofit that rescues and re-homes senior dogs and cats from open-admission shelters in and around the Chicago area. All of the animals Young At Heart takes in are from shelters with high euthanasia rates for older animals.
The majority of dogs and cats that are rescued by Young At Heart are about nine years old, although the organization is dedicated to re-homing those that are five years and older.
“If you have enough time and you promote them enough, there’s someone out there for all of them,” Kemper said.
After discovering that there was a void in Illinois for senior pet rescue organizations, Kemper founded Young At Heart in 2005 with Samantha Campen, of Wheaton; Kim Young, of Prairie View; Irene Tague, of Long Grove; and Sheila Roos, of Palatine.
“There was no organization in the entire Chicagoland area — there actually aren’t many in the entire country — that specialized in senior dogs and cats, because they are hard to adopt out,” Kemper said.
Since its founding, Young At Heart has rescued 500 senior dogs and cats that would have otherwise been euthanized. A high percentage of those senior pets find homes and foster families in Barrington, Lake Zurich and Palatine, although the organization’s services span the entire state.
Because the organization doesn’t have a shelter or building to house its pets prior to adoption, dogs are cared for in the homes of licensed foster families, and cats are tended to in a cage-less adoption area at Best Friends Pet Care in Prairie View.
Barrington Hills resident Bruce Goodhart found Doberman mix Silbert after reading the dog’s unfortunate background story on Young At Heart’s website.
“He was starved as a young puppy… weighed 26 pounds,” Goodhart said, adding that his previous owners had also unsuccessfully attempted to have him euthanized at a pound in Chicago before he was taken in by Young At Heart.
“He now weighs 56 pounds, and he’s absolutely terrific — the cat just loves him, and they eat his food together every morning,” Goodhart laughed.
For more information about Young At Heart Pet Rescue, visit www.yahpetrescue.com or call (847) 529-2025.