Woman provides final home to senior dogs, cats
Adrianne Grade gives some attention to two of the senior cats she has taken in at her Rover Grade Finally Home Animal Sanctuary. She's hoping to raise funds to build a shelter next to her home in unincorporated Hawthorne Woods. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Time
Updated: January 25, 2013 10:12AM
Adrianne Grade is a natural-born animal lover who always had lots of dogs and cats during the 40 years she lived in Highland Park.
As a urology nurse up until 2001, she’s also cared for many elderly people who were nearing the end of their natural lives.
For the past several years, she’s been pursuing her dream of creating a sanctuary for senior dogs and cats whose owners are no longer able, or inclined, to take care of them.
Grade has started the Rover Grade Finally Home Animal Sanctuary to allow dogs and cats to live out their lives in a caring environment when they are no longer candidates for adoption.
Toward that end, she moved two years ago to a five-acre site in unincorporated Hawthorne Woods, where she hopes to begin construction on a shelter adjacent to her residence. Currently, she’s caring for all of her sanctuary pets in her 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom ranch residence with a full basement. A year ago, she obtained tax-exempt status to accept charitable donations.
“You can’t get a senior cat into a shelter; they just don’t take them,” said Grade, who often receives calls from veterinarian technicians who don’t want to euthanize a pet simply because of old age. She’s also taken in abandoned senior pets referred by animal control officers.
The dogs and cats arrive at her sanctuary for many reasons. Dana, a yellow Labrador Retriever, was found languishing in an emaciated state on Sheridan Road in Waukegan by a Good Samaritan, who took the lab to the local animal warden.
In another case, a family had to relinquish a 15-year-old Shih Tzu because their mentally-challenged daughter was unable to interpret the dog’s behavioral cues. “She had the mind of a 3-year-old and didn’t understand that the dog didn’t want to be messed with any more,” said Grade.
One senior-citizen couple was losing their own home after 20 years. Though they were able to find housing in a senior center, the facility did not allow pets.
Dottie Cowles-Newton with the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago said the animal rescue community has the highest regard for Grade and the work she does. “If we had 15 more of her, that wouldn’t be enough,” said Cowles-Newton. “The animals I’ve sent her are very lucky. She covers a niche that some other ‘rescues’ don’t — the older dogs that have little hope of getting into a home situation. I think she uses a level head in terms of the number she has at any given time.”
To earn money by day, Grade continues to operate Grade A Pet Care, a business she started in Highland Park in 2003. She visits clients’ homes and provides pet services to working professionals or empty-nesters who are gone during the day. She’ll walk dogs, provide nourishment, change litter — even play a bit with a cat craving some attention. She also works at an animal shelter.
But she hasn’t a doubt that rescuing senior pets is her true calling. Said Grade, “This is what I was put here on earth to do.”
For information, visit www.rovergradeanimalsanctuary.org. Donations are accepted at P.O. Box 501, Highland Park.