Animal shelters facing challenges


Young at Heart in Woodstock offers adoptions of senior animals

By Frankie Fleming-Lile, Staff Writer

There was a major rise in cat and dog adoption rates during the pandemic but now with people out of the house again, what is happening to the shelters? Animal shelters need help with donations and community support. Many people have been struggling since the Covid pandemic, but so have our furry friends.

According to the Shelter Animals Count, a database for animal shelter statistics, in 2023 it is taking longer for animals to get adopted than it has in the last four years. On top of this 88 percent of shelters are understaffed according to statistics. Small businesses are in need of support. There are many ways we can help our local shelters in McHenry County.

How to help

Many local shelters are looking for support, here is what you can do. Local shelters host various adoption and donation events that are fun for all ages.

Animal House Shelter in Huntley is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day 5k run for families and a beer run for ages 21+. There is also a beer event with no running. More information can be found at

Another local shelter, Young at Heart Senior Pet Adoptions in Woodstock, has many fun events coming up. The Doggie Paddle in Crystal Lake on March 4 will feature the Doggie Swim A-Thon. Tickets can be purchased in support of one of the two teams of senior dogs. If you can’t attend, segments will be posted on their Facebook account.

Another way to help is by volunteering.  Almost every local shelter has volunteer opportunities. Young at Heart is hosting new volunteer orientations on March 11 and 22 for anyone interested. Volunteering can be a fun activity to do with your family, friends or significant other — and it feels good to help in the community.

Shelters always need donations. Donating supplies is a great option if volunteering doesn’t fit into your schedule. To find what shelters need, go to any local shelter’s website for a  list of needed supplies. Most websites will have this information available.

You can also make a difference by encouraging people to adopt instead of getting animals from breeders. Many animals need homes. If you are unable to have an animal long-term, fostering a dog or cat is a great choice. Fostering animals means taking care of the animal in your home until they find their forever home.

If you are able to adopt, the process can be a bit tricky. Whether getting from a breeder or adopting, there will be a lot of paperwork. This is to ensure the animal is going to a good and stable home. The application process looks similar across most shelters.

For example,  Animal House Shelter in Huntley describes it on their website: Firs fill out an application form with general information about yourself. Next, you are contacted personally by an application specialist. This person will answer any questions you may have about the process. If the application is approved, you would then set up a visit to meet the dogs or cats you’re interested in. Once you find a dog or cat, everyone in your house will come to meet the pet at the shelter. If all goes well, you’ll bring home a new family member!

Is a dog or cat not for you?

If you are interested in adopting a pet that is not a dog or cat, there are many options. It may seem easiest to get small animals such as rabbits, reptiles, birds, etc. from a pet store but small critters need adopting too.

It is not always known that adoption is an option for small animals, but it is. Locally, there is a shelter called the Créme de la Créme Animal Foundation in Algonquin. This shelter rescues cats, dogs and as their website puts it, “furry, feathered, scaly and slimy animals” as well.

Another way to adopt small animals that do not come from the pet store is to look to the community. If you are in a community chat or have social media, ask if anyone has a small animal they cannot keep. Many shelters don’t take small animals so there is a good chance that someone in your area needs to give away a pet.

Why adopt?

Adopting is a better choice when looking for a pet. The main advantage of adopting is rescuing and giving a home to an animal in need.

Some of the other pros are behavior records so you know how the dog will react to different people and places. You can also look for a dog who has already been housebroken.

Another major advantage of adoption is saving money. It is much cheaper to adopt. The animal may have already been vaccinated, spayed or neutered. Adopting is a great way to make a difference in an animal’s life.

Here are links to the local shelters mentioned here: