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On Angel’s Wings dream come true for pets and humans

Jeanette Schulz, executive director of On Angel's Wings, saved this dog from euthanization. He'll go to an adoptive parent in Fox Lake. (Sheryl DeVore/Tribune)

Jeanette Schulz, executive director of On Angel's Wings, saved this dog from euthanization. He'll go to an adoptive parent in Fox Lake. (Sheryl DeVore/Tribune)

For Emily Huetson, working with her mom at an animal shelter is a dream come true. (Sheryl DeVore/Tribune)

Inch Bug had two days left to live.

It’s not that the 3-year-old  Chihuahua-Pomeranian  mix  was sick. There just wasn’t enough room for the dog in a southern Illinois shelter. So he was going to be euthanized.

Inch Bug, however, is now in the loving hands of On Angel’s Wings, a not-for-profit shelter for unwanted dogs and cats based in Crystal Lake. Executive Director Jeannette Schulz took Inch Bug in as a foster pet.  She will soon be relinquishing Inch Bug to its adoptive parent,  Sue Jacobek of Fox Lake. Jacobek will change his name to Rusty, which she said sounds better than Inch Bug.

“It’ll be hard to give him up,” Schulz said. But that’s the plan at On Angel’s Wings,  winner of the TribLocal People’s Choice Charity Contest.  Schulz and her daughter, Emily Huetson run two thrift shops, one in Crystal Lake and the other in Lake Zurich, to raise money to pay for the dogs and cats they save from getting euthanized and place in adoptive homes. Their 501c3 organization will receive a $500 check from TribLocal.

Running a shelter for dogs and cats has  been Huetson’s  dream since she was in kindergarten—and it’s been her mom’s dream for nearly as long, though she spent most of her career working in the corporate world.

“It never felt right,” Schulz said about her longtime career. “All this worry about the bottom line.” When her company  decided to move to New Jersey five years ago,  Schulz said, “It was time to pursue a dream.”

At first, Schulz and her daughter looked at each other and asked, “Are we crazy?” But they quickly agreed to go for it with all the energy they could muster.

Both had worked for four years as volunteers at a thrift shop in Cary, with profits going to the homeless, so they had an idea of how to run such a store.

Schulz also used her business acumen to do the research necessary to establish the shelter, get it licensed by the state and create the store that would keep her and her daughter paid as well as help spay, neuter and microchip dogs and cats for adoption.

Today, in fewer than five years, they have two thrift shops filled with glassware, clothes,  hats, jewelry and other items; a room in the back for several cats and dogs ; and 10 licensed foster parents who take in animals until they can be adopted. There’s also a board of directors and volunteers like Janet Jones, who cleans out cat and dog cages.  Schulz and Huetson have also found a place in Woodstock where they are hoping to build another shelter to house animals before they get adopted.

People who come to thrift shop are mostly there for the bargains, Schulz said.

Eileen Swank of Crystal Lake said she shops at the store because, “I won’t pay regular price for anything.”

But those who donate items to the thrift shop do so for their love of animals and desire to not let a single unwanted dog or cat get euthanized, Schulz said.

Of course, that’s impossible, she said.  “The emails we receive everyday are so heartbreaking. Every day we have to say no,” she said, referring to people who ask them to care for unwanted pets. They cannot take them all,  but Schulz said she doesn’t dwell on that. Instead, she  thinks about the ones she’s saved.

Sitting with her daughter on a comfy couch at the thrift shop, with Inch Bug aka Rusty on her lap, Schulz  relayed stories of hope; stories she said that make her cry.

“We had three blind puppies once. I almost started crying. But they got adopted so quickly,” Schulz said. “Emily taught them to come to her clapping.”

“They loved life,” Huetson chimed in. One of the puppies was best in his obedience class, she said. Another brought comfort to a dog that had been abused. Huetson plans to attend veterinarian assistant classes this year at McHenry County Community College.

Mom and daughter live together in Woodstock with their four dogs, five cats and two foster dogs, one of whom is Inch Bug and will be moving in with  Jacobek of Fox Lake soon. “She needs a companion. This dog will be everything to her,” Schulz said–just like On Angel’s Wings is everything to Schulz and her daughter.

For more information, to make a donation or adopt an animal, go to onangelswingsinc.org. Fees vary for pets to be adopted and help pay for neutering, microchips and shots.

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