“Have a heart.
They’re living creatures.
They need love, food, and a home.”
There’s Carrie, who continued to guard her home for months after her family left.
There’s Trucker, who was found some 40 pounds underweight and freezing in a truck yard.
And there’s Marty, who was spied running along the street dragging an enormous chain. He was scavenging for food in garbage cans on a frosty January day.
All three of these dogs, and countless others, have been rescued and given a second chance at life and love by a small group of caring people who call themselves ‘The Muttley Crew.’
They’re just regular people — nurses, teachers, small business owners, retirees — who go to great lengths and expense to save the animals now being tossed about in the ongoing economic storm.
And Ed Kostro thought he’d seen the worst of this kind of thing after Hurricane Katrina.
“It’s much worse now,” he said.
In 2005, Kostro left his home in the Chicago area and traveled to New Orleans to help the group Best Friends reunite pets with owners.
The author and retired federal government employee worked tirelessly on the project. It earned him a reputation in the Chicago dog-rescuing community as a guy with a big heart.
When the economy began to tank here, animal lovers turned to him for help.
The first call came in 2008, when Kostro was told about a rat terrier callously dumped in a park.
“This dog was scared to death. Several people had tried to catch him, but he kept getting away,” Kostro said. After a month, Kostro finally caught him with a cat trap.
“Once I got him home he was a different dog,” Kostro said. “I took him out of the trap, he peed on my shoes, and we became friends.”
Today, “Jack” lives with Kostro and his wife, Rebecca.
So does Carrie. So does Trucker.
Kostro said he never imagined conditions for pets could get worse than they were in the aftermath of Katrina when so many loose animals were rounded up and shipped to shelters across the country.
As chaotic as that storm was, it eventually ended so cleanup could begin.
The current financial storm has been raging for four years now.
Four years of home foreclosures, of job losses, of family pets suddenly becoming expendable.
Kostro and friends have found animals living in the saddest of conditions, right here in the Midwest.
They were once loved, once cared for, and once valued, in a society that has made some ugly choices in its ongoing struggle to throw things off their financially teetering plane. Many of the abandoned pets end up skeletal, scared, and confused by the very idea that their once loving family would simply walk away or, even worse, take them to a forest preserve, park, or store parking lot, and leave them there.
“I think these dumped dogs have it the worst,” Kostro said. “They’re left in bad shape. If they were to be taken to a shelter, they would be put down. No one has the money to invest in their recovery.”
Kostro and friends don’t have the money either. But they’ve managed to find it. So far, anyway.
When word gets out that an abandoned pet is roaming the area, Kostro and others, including Katie, a nurse; Sue, who publishes a neighborhood newspaper; and Judy, the owner of a pet resort, begin looking for a foster home or even better, a forever home, for the pets that they now rescue.
Their network extends from Chicago and its many suburbs, all across the Midwest.
One of Katie’s friends has now adopted Lucy, a wire-haired terrier that was found living in an empty lot in one of Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Pets, she said, should be treated like children.
“You’re responsible for them,” she said. “Would you abandon your kids just because times got tough?”
Melanie, another ardent dog lover, took rescued Marty in. “At first, he didn’t know how to live in a house,” she said. But after a couple of visits, the husky had it down.
The Muttley Crew is not a non-profit. It is not soliciting funds.
Ask what society can do to help abandoned animals and Kostro answers, plain and simple:
“Be better pet owners. And better citizens. If you see an animal in peril, help it and find it a home.”
Katie adds: “Have a heart. They’re living creatures. They need love, food, and a home. That’s all.”
How You Can Help:
Have your pets spayed/neutered.
Have them micro-chipped.
Adopt, Instead of Shop, for a New Family Pet,
The shelters are filled with animals that need a home.
Remind people with pets, that abandoning them,
Is usually a Death Sentence, since most pets today,
Lack the necessary skills to survive on their own.
Advocate for, and demand, much stiffer legal penalties
For all animal abusers, and those who abandon their pets.
If you see an animal running loose, don’t just call somebody,
Muster the courage and the compassion,
To help it yourself.