As a senior Shih-Tzu with a debilitating medical condition, Tootsie overcame the odds and found a loving new family during last year's Clear the Shelters event.
"She was very sweet from the minute she came in, but she was pretty scared," said Emily Klehm, CEO of the South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights. "When a dog is a severely matted as she was, they’re very uncomfortable in their own skin."
Last July, 8-year-old Tootsie entered the humane society as a transfer dog from a shelter in Chicago with a high euthanasia rate.
Before she was adopted, Tootsie suffered from glaucoma. The pressure on her eye became so much, it had to be removed. If the humane society had not operated on Tootsie, the eye would have fallen out on its own, Klehm said.
Tootsie slowly grew more comfortable and became a happy, healthier dog. At first, South Suburban Humane Society wasn't comfortable adopting Tootsie out because of her condition.
"I think people need to be prepared for a financial investment for a pet that may have health issues," Klehm said.
But on Aug. 15, Tootsie found her forever family.
"She was not the most attractive dog in the shelter that day," Klehm said. "This lovely family walked in because of [Clear the Shelters] and because of advertising [for] the event."
Tootsie's new owner was a veterinarian technician who was familiar with the issues she was facing.
The family keeps in touch with the South Suburban Humane Society and sends updates about Tootise. Recently, they came back looking for a possible friend that Tootsie could enjoy her golden years with.
The South Suburban Humane Society started with 65 animals on the day of Clear the Shelters and ended up finalizing 49 adoptions.
"We had a line out the door when we opened," Klehm said. "We filled up the shelter with animals who could find good homes that weekend."