Officials at a suburban animal control facility didn't know what they were in for when a recently homeless woman dropped off her family's beloved dog because she could no longer care for it.
"She called him her rescue dog,” North Chicago Animal Control Officer Dana Deustch said. “Usually when we hear rescue dog you think, ‘What rescue did you get him from?’ but she said he rescued them.”
Linda Barnes, who lost her home in Waukegan, said her dog, Shadow, had saved her family on more than one occasion. Barnes claims the dog, who is a little more than a year old, alerted the family when her daughter had a heart attack and again when there was a small fire in their home.
“This dog really saved our lives,” she said. "It hurt me that day to give this dog up, but sometimes you don't have no choice in life. [Shadow] came into our lives and just touched us. He’s just remarkable; he’s a miracle dog.”
Deustch was taking a personal day Friday when she was called in by Animal Control Supervisor Sergeant Darcie Brown, for a woman who was surrendering her dog.
“She was extremely sad,” Brown said. “She walked up and she said ‘Can you take my dog?’ I said ‘Why are you giving him up?’ and she said ‘Well, because we are homeless now and we can’t take care of the dog.’”
Brown said the facility typically doesn’t take animals from outside the area, but Barnes’ story quickly became too compelling to turn away.
"It was devastating watching and listening to her,” said Deutsch. “People give up their dogs like, you know, they’re just throwing out the trash sometimes and this dog was like the last thing she had. I felt like it was the last thing she had in her world that meant anything to her.”
After Barnes left, Deutsch took the dog with her and began searching for a way to help.
“It was tough, but I knew I was going to be able to take care of him,” she said. “He’s young, he’s energetic-- he’s like a very happy dog. He loves everybody. Rescues were lining up to take him.”
But on Wednesday she got a call from Barnes who said she found a home through a generous friend and hoped to take Shadow back.
“We’re praying that he goes back home,” she said. “And we’ll do whatever we can to support [Barnes] and help her. We’ll provide her with food as long as we can, rabies shots. We’re always willing to help out.”
The news was just what Barnes needed.
"I screamed, I prayed. I jumped up and down," she said.
Barnes said she expects to move into her new home Friday and plans to bring Shadow with her.
"I got something to live for now. I’ve got something to look positive for," she said.