Rescue Lynda survived the fire and has a foster home. She's available for adoption. Credit: Courtesy Fetching Tails Foundation

Last week, animal lovers throughout the Chicago area were devastated by the news that a fire at Bully Life Animal Services (formerly known as D&D Dog Kennel), near the suburb of West Chicago, had taken the lives of more than 30 dogs. Firefighters were able to rescue over 20 more dogs.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Owner and operator Garrett Mercado, who lived in an apartment in the building, arrived home after the fire had started, and sustained injuries while opening hot cages. In addition to losing many of the animals he was boarding, he lost his business, his home, and all but one of his own pets in the blaze. Each of those details is tragic, but to make matters even more heart-wrenching, Mercado specializes in housing dogs with behavioral issues or who have suffered previous abuse. A number of local pet rescues, including Pets and Vets USA (which provides job training and opportunities for homeless military veterans to work with dogs), place animals with him to get the training and support needed to be housed with foster families—and ultimately, their forever homes.

In the aftermath of the fire, a spotlight was put on animal rescues throughout the Chicago area. Though some shelters work with outside kennels and have a network of foster parents and volunteers, rescues are unique in that they are typically volunteer run and without a central location for operations or animal housing. The loss of a boarding facility can have a ripple effect throughout the pet rescue community—and the loss of Bully Life Animal Services, which performs vital support for struggling animals who are not yet ready to be placed with a family, is particularly difficult. Mercado’s friends and colleagues have launched a GoFundMe page to help him heal from his injuries and get back to his work. It’s a great time to consider donating to any upstanding animal rescue throughout the city—or maybe even adopting a new furry friend. v

Adopt Lynda and other dogs at Fetching Tails Foundation.