TAILS offers safe haven for abandoned animals

By Ericka Exton

Who says family members can’t have four legs?

TAILS Humane Society, 2250 Barber Greene Road, is dedicated to finding a home for all animals. TAILS is a no kill shelter that specializes in rescuing, fostering and caring for abandoned, lost or injured animals.

Founded in May 2005, TAILS started out as a farmhouse shelter in 2003 that housed just cats. Over time it grew into a bigger establishment and now can care for many animals, from rabbits to kittens and even wild animals through its “Wild Tails” program.

“The Wild Tails program helps injured raccoons, squirrels, mink, geese and ducks,” said TAILS volunteer coordinator Courtney Marshall.

The wild animals are not up for adoption but there are many domestic animals waiting for a home. TAILS gets the majority of its animals from a shelter in Oklahoma that houses mostly relinquished pets or strays.

“We got in 100 dogs in a month just from Oklahoma and in October we got 300 dogs,” Marshall said.

Even though there are many animals at TAILS, the staff and volunteers are able to make sure each one gets sufficient care, according to Executive Director Beth Drake.

“Every pet is spayed or neutered and when one is adopted, they get a month free at the vet,” Drake said. “We also have vet clinic on site for any animal, not just the ones here.”

In addition to the vet clinic, TAILS has a doggy day care and grooming center.

The goal at TAILS is to find animals a loving home, but the organization’s mission doesn’t stop there.

“We want to educate people about the importance of spaying and neutering to help end overpopulation of dogs and cats so there won’t be so many abandoned and stray dogs and cats,” Marshall said.

If owning a pet permanently isn’t the goal, TAILS also has a foster home program in which someone agrees to care for a special needs animal for a short period of time. TAILS has a Home Buddies program, as well, that lets the elderly with special ailments adopt for free so they have a companion.

TAILS requires a lot of spare hands who volunteer time and work, according to Director of Operations Jenni Johnson. TAILS gets 300 to 400 volunteers within a year and NIU Cares Day will add to the help in April; because of that, Johnson said she is looking forward to the event.

“We’ve had a strong relationship with NIU and they come out every year to help,” Johnson said.

Every part of the job is rewarding, Johnson said. It’s not uncommon for TAILS employees to find the right pet for themselves.

“I love so many aspects of my job, but I think the best one is matching a pet with the right owner and seeing them go home,” Johnson said. “I’ve adopted from TAILS myself twice.”