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Donation illuminates TAILS Humane Society

TAILS staffer Brittany Hugelen walks a dog past one of the trees decorated with holiday lights recently.
TAILS staffer Brittany Hugelen walks a dog past one of the trees decorated with holiday lights recently.

DeKALB – Beth Drake is hoping the Christmas lights outside TAILS Humane Society bring more people into the animal shelter.

“As it gets dark, it gets harder to see buildings on the side of the road,” said the executive director of TAILS. “It makes people think, well gosh, ‘I haven’t thought about a cat recently.’”

Drivers cruising by TAILS Humane Society, 2250 Barber Greene Road, at night will notice the shelter is hard to see. Beth Mars, the director of operations for Petco Foundation, said she missed the building when she first visited it.

Mars was attending an auction hosted by another animal shelter when she set eyes on the Christmas lights package. Mars thought the lights were a very clever auction item.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this would be perfect for TAILS,’” Mars said. “People could see them. Look for the lights.”

Mars bid $1,800 on the lights package and won. She contacted the donors of the lights, Kramer Tree Specialists, a tree care company located in West Chicago, and arranged to have them set up the lights for free. Paul Filary, the sales and marketing manager at Kramer Tree Specialists, said “we were happy to do it.”

Mars said the holiday season is the perfect time to think about adopting a pet.

“My motto is let’s make this a no-more-homeless holiday for pets,” Mars said.

Drake said TAILS would not have been able to afford the lights package on its own, describing it as a wonderful gift for the holidays.

“[Mars] wanted to attract attention to our shelter so we can adopt more animals out for this holiday season,” Drake said, adding that they normally see a 20 percent increase over the holidays. “It really serves its purposes. I’ve heard nothing but compliments from people, and it’s brought people in.”

Filary said the Christmas lights they installed outside of TAILS typically are for residences. The owners of Kramer Tree Specialists, Joe and Jan Kramer, have “always had an interest in animal shelters and pets.”

“And through Kramer Trees, they’ve been helping animal shelters for quite awhile,” Filary said.

Mars described TAILS as one of her favorite shelters. She traveled with Drake to Oklahoma in October as part of a rescue mission sponsored by TAILS, the Petco Foundation and Animal Care League.

Drake, Mars and others rescued over 300 dogs from five impoverished counties. While it wasn’t her first animal rescue, Mars said it was her first experience in an environment that bad.

“It was probably – some of the places were the worst I’ve ever seen in regards to conditions for animals,” Mars said. “When people suffer, the animals suffer even more.”

Drake said by the end of October, more than half of the dogs that were rescued were adopted. She said 10 to 15 dogs from that rescue remain. Mars adopted two of them.

“They’re both magnificent mutts,” Mars said. “They know this is their second chance, and they are making the most of it.”

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