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Happy Tails focused on expanding its reach

Rehoming website, mobile adoption unit among latest innovations

Happy Tails Humane Society's Wellness Clinic, inside the shelter at 1408 McNeil Road in Rock Falls, has expanded the number of days it's open, to 4 days a week
Happy Tails Humane Society's Wellness Clinic, inside the shelter at 1408 McNeil Road in Rock Falls, has expanded the number of days it's open, to 4 days a week

ROCK FALLS – Happy Tails Humane Society and Animal Shelter is working on several projects that will expand its outreach capabilities, enabling the shelter to help more animals.

One of its new ventures was launched quietly several months ago. Home to Home is an online network, free to users, that allows for the rehoming of dogs and cats without having to bring them to the shelter or involve an adoption fee.

The website, at, was made possible by a Maddie’s Fund Innovation Grant. Owners who need to surrender a pet can set up a pet profile with photos. Those looking to adopt a pet can search the site. There are some rules to follow, such as a ban on the exchange of money.

This innovative program brings several benefits. It reduces stress on the animals because they can bypass the shelter and be moved directly into their new homes. The new owners get a chance to learn more about the pet through interaction with the current owner.

It also helps the shelter by freeing up more space and resources for the stray, abandoned and abused animals that have no other options.

“Twenty-first century animal sheltering is totally different that it was 20 years ago,” said Donald Czyzyk, director of the shelter’s clinic. “This kind of outreach program keeps animals in homes and increases our impact in the community.”

The website is yielding results, and its reach now extends beyond the dog and cat population.

“We only take cats and dogs at the shelter, but the site allows us to post profiles for rabbits, exotics and a variety of pocket pets,” Czyzyk said.

A good Samaritan recently used Home to Home to post profiles of two kittens found at the side of a road. They were adopted in 2 days and were able to stay together.

Another project the shelter is working on will enable it to extend its physical reach. A retrofitted used bus should be ready to roll by the end of February. It’s only a 2001 model, but it has been equipped with a new transmission, air conditioning and tires. The vehicle will make it convenient to take more animals to special events, expanding the radius to 100 miles.

The shelter still needs about $2,000 to get the animals on the road, so they can be seen by more pet lovers.

“Donors paid for the bus and cages, and the last step is to get the lettering and logo on it,” Czyzyk said. “We have the digital files and they look amazing.”

Business sponsors can get their names put on the bus. To help, message or call 815-703-3079.

The shelter is also partnering with another local nonprofit to keep animals in homes. Happy Tails is working with the YWCA of the Sauk Valley to help pet owners who are in domestic violence situations.

“We are helping people who find it harder to leave an abusive situation because they don’t want to leave their pets behind,” Czyzyk said.

The shelter or Whiteside County Animal Control will house the pets at no charge unless they need immediate veterinary care. If that situation arises, solutions will be discussed.

The shelter clinic’s spay and neuter and vaccination programs continue to grow. About 50 animals are being fixed and more than 100 vaccinated each week, Czyzyk said. The shelter is now housing 45 cats and 10 dogs.

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