It’s got all the makings of a holiday miracle.
Just a week ago, things looked bleak for Cache Creek Animal Rescue, a no-kill, not-for-profit animal shelter with a facility in Joliet, Illinois. The shelter had received an eviction notice telling it to vacate its suburban Chicago facility by Jan. 10, leaving the shelter's dozens of cats and dogs at risk of homelessness.
The shelter, which rescues animals facing euthanasia at shelters largely in southern Illinois and Kentucky, reached out to the public for help and has been “overwhelmed” by the response.
A GoFundMe page created on Wednesday exceeded its $50,000 fundraising goal after the shelter's story was featured by a number of Chicago-area media outlets. As of Friday afternoon, over $64,000 had been contributed to help the shelter continue its work.
Tori Spetz, a kennel hand and office staffer at Cache Creek, told The Huffington Post the shelter initially thought the eviction was “the worst thing that could happen,” but now sees it as a blessing in disguise. She says “the phone hasn’t stopped ringing” since news of the shelter's difficult situation spread, and that the staff has been busy with more adoptions than usual.
"We're so humbled and grateful for everything," Spetz said.
And though the shelter has already met its funding goal, Spetz added it still can use every bit of help and that all additional funding will go toward housing and caring for the rescue animals.
A vehicle used by shelter director Donna Hawk to transport pets to Joliet is in desperate need of repairs, according to the GoFundMe. In addition, the shelter’s main “hub location” for pets, in downstate Anna, is also in rough shape due to a series of flooding incidents.
The specific circumstances of what prompted the eviction notice are somewhat unclear. Hawk told the Chicago Tribune the facility has always paid rent on time, had improved on the property and was hoping to re-sign its two-year lease in July. The only issues she claims the shelter has had were some complaints from neighbors about dog droppings on the property.
The Joliet Herald-News reports the building itself has had multiple code violations, though it is unclear whether either the building’s owner or the tenant -- the shelter -- would be responsible for addressing the violations under the terms of its lease, according to an attorney working pro bono on the shelter’s behalf in the matter.
The shelter also created a YouTube video to spread the word of its plight: