Bus Accident and our Puppies

See these two dogs that bring so much joy to our lives?Skeeter Bess and Lola Belle
After the 5 K in the Car

They were adopted at the Wright-Way Rescue Shelter. It didn’t look like much of a building from the outside. It was the first place we went to look for a dog last August. I was doubtful. Tiny. Cinder blocks. Very urban space with barely any parking, much less a yard.

Then I walked in and it was filled with light and love. There were staff that cared, volunteers all over, and happy dogs and cats protected behind plexiglass and then a fence to keep people from getting too close. This meant that the dogs didn’t all howl constantly. They were safe and cared for with blankets, toys, super clean areas. No one got fingers nipped or licked unexpectedly by a nervous dog. You had to fill out adoption paperwork BEFORE you could get close to a potential new family member. So, an animal waiting for adoption didn’t get handled by every kid and adult who wandered in. So much better for the animals. (even if we all wanted to give each one a pat)

All of that said–it was a building full of love for both potential adopting families and for the animals. None of the staff acted like we weren’t good enough to adopt. No one acted like potential adopting families were a nuisance or the animals too problematic.

We went to a lot of shelters that first day of searching. We went to big ones, little ones, but none of them had the enthusiasm of Wright-Way. It wasn’t the prettiest–the selection of dogs didn’t catch my heart that day, but it was special.

After another day of this–we came to the breaking point. There was one dog at another shelter I thought would be best for us. Denise had her reservations and we’d have to wait to jump through hoops including introducing everyone in the family, including other pets.

I said, let’s go try that first one again. We did. The dog I thought I wanted had already been adopted, as had the border collie youngest wanted.

Then something happened. Skeeter’s sister was being shown to a prospective family. Denise was taken by her. The girls as well. Ok. Compromise. So there we were–filling out paperwork to see Skeeter. (Scottie then) and that was it. We were led into a little play yard (like the kind we used for the prairie dogs sometimes) and got to meet and greet. Yes, she was the right one. We had to watch a video on how to care for our new dog and about the shelter. We bought kibble, a leash, a collar. We went home with Skeeter. (We often regret we didn’t adopt Abby her sister at the same time and hope she went to a family just as much in love with her as we are with Skeeter.)

She brought immense joy and change to our family. Suddenly we were out on pack walks, spending a lot of time at pet stores, and out and about with Skeeter.

Then this spring after Koto passed away, we started to think about adopting again. We headed to Wright-Way right away. Disappointing, just a few dogs (it was Tuesday), one was not good with other dogs. There was another that caught my interest, but then there was a mama dog whose pups had already been adopted out. She looked a bit like Skeeter.  She was still super young-barely one-year-old. The staff warned us she was a jumper. Said we’d have to wait until the kitchen/video room was open to check her out. They brought a few toys and left us with her. She ran. She jumped. She chased toys. She licked my face. At that point Denise knew it was all over. Yes, I could look at the other one–but really? So I ended up with a dog with “an udder” which is not really my thing. (several months later–now that her milk has dried up and she’s spayed, it is barely noticeable.) Now our house is filled with the energy of tween-ager dogs. Even our landlord loves them and said yesterday morning that he was glad we had gotten Lola for Skeeter.

Then yesterday afternoon this happened to the place full of love that brought a lot of love into our house:

Shelter hit by a busNo children were on the bus. No pets or people were physically injured in the accident. All of the rescues were accounted for eventually. That was a blessing. But, it is traumatic. I can’t imagine the fear of the animals inside. The volunteers and staff who were getting ready for opening time.

Then there is this: Wright-Way doesn’t own that building. They rent-month to month–because the owner wants to redevelop the property.That means insurance money for the building damage goes to the landlord.

They’ve been fundraising to get a better facility. They weren’t close enough to the finish line there and never expected to be in this emergency position. In the meantime they spent a good amount of money on that facility and adopt out a lot of animals every week.

These aren’t just any animals either–these are animals rescued from kill shelters from rural areas. They are the only facility near here that does that. They pick dogs and cats from the kill shelters that really look to have a good chance at adoption given a bit more time and medical care.

They take pregnant dogs and cats in and find foster homes for them so that instead of dying and stacked like cordwood–they have their puppies in a home. (We’ve met the person who fostered Lola and her puppies) So, if you ever thought “Oh, I would spay my dog, but I want to have my children experience seeing a dog/cat give birth–you can foster instead. All of the pets are spayed/neutered and brought to good health before sent to the adoption facility from the intake center. (Well–some of the young puppies/new mamas aren’t spayed/neutered yet but they must be within a certain period of time)

They offer free and low-cost training classes. They offer low cost vaccination and health clinics on weekends to help everyone keep their pets healthy–no matter where the pet came from. (Imagine–not having to pay for all the “extras” just to get your dog or cat tested for worms, their heartworm meds, their required vaccinations)

So, while they don’t have an adoption facility–they can’t find new homes for the animals already in their intake facility. That means other animals won’t get rescued from the kill shelters. It is horrifying and horrible. I worried all night for them and into today. Yes, they found foster homes for the ones that were waiting for homes yesterday.

But the75 animals each week that head up to Wright-Way in Niles won’t be going there any time soon. Every week…until they find a new facility and get it up and running.

Think about an “easy” move you’ve had months to plan for and how taxing that is-both physically and financially. If you’ve ever had to move at moments notice because of a disaster, think how that drained you. Add on top of that the loss of ability to save lives. It is breaking my heart. I am going to do all I can to help–but I know it can’t be done alone.

Lives like Skeeter and Lola–dogs that very well may have saved our lives in some way–to give us a bit of a push to be more active, to be more responsible, to get out there and be happy.

So, if you can, please help Wright-Way. Surround them with prayers and love. Go lend a hand if you are able. Donate even a little bit if you can. If you are in Illinois and able, offer to foster a pet. Or just buy a toy or treats for your pet from their online shop.

Wright-Way Needs Help

Skeeter Says Please Help

Skeeter Says Please Help


  1. Waaaaaah! That’s so beautiful!! And so is Skeeter. And wow, just so sad. I was telling Denise today Z and I are going to adopt a puppy rescued from a kill shelter in Tennessee. And I will make a donation to Wright-Way, because you guys are the reason I think Zack and I should have a dog. : )

  2. I love Stacy. You and Denise aren’t so bad either. 😉

  3. PUPPIES!!!

  4. Exactly.

  5. I do too.

  6. Thanks Stacy! Dogs are unimaginably wonderful additions to the family. Wright-Way is good people. (Interestingly started by a young woman in college who discovered the plight of rural shelters and wanted to do something about it.

  7. Hi: Found your blog from a link posted on Wright-Ways FB page. I have a blog too, I posted a story about WWR on Thursday and I hope its helping raise funds also, its had lots of views! Glad to find another WWR alum blogger! Dolly and Sandra

  8. This so beautifully written and you captured the essence of Wright Way precisely. We adopted two sisters, Sugar and Spice, from there in August of 2012. You are much better with words than I will ever be so I will be sharing your story. Hopefully together, the Wright Way “family” will be able to get this shelter up and running again soon to it’s full potential.

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