southtownstar
FLAWLESS 
Weather Updates

Vickroy: Pet lovers to the rescue

Ed RebeccKostro share their home with many rescued dogs including Carrie. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

Ed and Rebecca Kostro share their home with many rescued dogs, including Carrie. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 23429247
tmspicid: 8661012
fileheaderid: 3910537

How to help

Have your pets spayed/neutered.

Have them microchipped.

Adopt, instead of shop, for a new pet. The shelters are filled with animals that need a home.

Advocate for and demand much stiffer legal penalties for animal abusers and those who dump their pets.

If you see an animal running loose, don’t just call somebody. Muster the courage to help it yourself.

For more information on ways to help, visit www.animalrescuechase.com
or www.care2.com

Updated: February 10, 2012 8:07AM



There’s Carrie, who continued to guard her South Side home for months after her family left.

There’s Trucker, who was found some 40 pounds underweight and freezing in a truck yard near 51st Street and Central Avenue.

And there’s Marty, who was spied running along Damen Avenue dragging an enormous chain. He was scavenging for food in garbage cans on a frosty January day.

All three of those dogs, and countless others, were rescued and given a second chance at life and love by a group of caring South Siders who call themselves The Muttley Crew.

They’re just regular people — nurses, teachers, retirees — who go to great lengths and expense to save the animals 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 Garfield Ridge community and traveled to New Orleans to help the group Best Friends reunite pets with owners.

The author and retired auditor for the Veterans Administration 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 living in a park near Narragansett and Archer.

“The 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 conditions right here in the Southland.

They were once loved, once cared for, 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, fenced park or store parking lot and walk away.

“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 via Facebook or email that an abandoned pet is roaming the area, Kostro and others, including Katie Campbell, a nurse; Sue Malone, who publishes the Journal and City Newshound newsletter; and Judy Schnur, owner of Pawsitively Heaven Pet Resort in Chicago Ridge, begin looking for a foster home or, better, a forever home.

Their network extends from Chicago’s South Side across the Southland.

Campbell’s friend now has Lucy, a terrier that was found in July on an empty lot in Chicago’s Canaryville neighborhood.

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 Steinbrenner, of the Hegewisch community, took 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.”

Campbell adds: “Have a heart. They’re living creatures. They need love, food and a home. That’s all.”



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.