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Community, business rally to help animal rescue shelter

Published: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 5:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 11:53 p.m. CDT
(Sarah Nader –
Reggis, a basset hound-boxer mix, is surrounded by blankets in a kennel at Animal House Shelter in Huntley Monday. The boiler that heats the concrete floor at the shelter failed Friday, just ahead of the arctic blast. Black Diamond Plumbing donated its services to get the heat back on and the local community responded by writing checks and donating bedding and blankets to keep the dogs and cats warm.

HUNTLEY – Community members and a Crystal Lake business helped rescue Animal House Shelter in Huntley this weekend after one of the nonprofit organization’s heaters failed Friday.

The boiler used to heat the pet shelter’s concrete floors stopped working as the area prepared for record cold temperatures, Animal House Shelter Director Cynthia Ritter said.

Although the boiler used to heat the air continued working, Ritter said, the shelter had to scramble to get bedding for 150 dogs and 100 cats at the facility. Technicians from Black Diamond Plumbing and Mechanical in Crystal Lake found the boiler was beyond repair.

As word of the shelter’s situation began to spread, local residents donated blankets and other bedding for the animals and turned up with cash and checks to help replace the boiler.

“It was overwhelming,” Ritter said. “Friday and Saturday, we had a constant flow of people coming in with donations and supplies.”

Hearing the nonprofit was short on cash, Black Diamond President Rick Sperando decided to donate the company’s services. Black Diamond workers had the replacement boiler working and the temperature rising by 5 p.m. Saturday.

Donations from the community will be used to offset the cost of the boiler, according to an email from the shelter.

“It was wonderful they were able to get it going so quickly before the extreme cold hit,” Ritter said.

Donating the company’s services was an easy decision for Sperando.

“We’re also animal lovers,” he said.

Sperando said his children and several Black Diamond employees had adopted pets from the shelter. He estimated the company spent about $4,000 on the job, but added, “You can’t put a price on goodwill.”

Ritter said the boiler may have gone out because it was working extra hard to combat the facility’s poor insulation. She estimated it would cost about $20,000 to properly re-insulate the shelter. That expense comes on top of $40,000 the shelter recently paid for a new roof.

While losing a boiler in winter is never good, Ritter said the ordeal had “almost been a blessing in disguise.”

“It has raised awareness of the shelter and the plight of homeless animals,” she said.

Ritter praised the community’s reaction and Black Diamond’s donation.

“It’s been wonderful to see the response, it has literally been bringing tears of joy to our eyes to see how much people care,” she said. “We couldn’t have asked for more. Those animals are so cozy right now.”


Animal House Shelter

What: A no-kill shelter for dogs and cats

Where: 13005 Ernesti Road, Huntley

Phone: 847-961-5541


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