From stray puppy to a member of the Lindow household, Harper the terrier is now an honored critter of the state of Illinois.
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka met with the Lindow family and Harper, at Metro-East Humane Society on Wednesday to honor the 2000th animal adopted through the Comptroller's Critters project.
Topinka launched the project at Metro-East Humane Society in 2011. It connects adoptable pets with owners via the comptroller's website, which has more than 100 shelters online to share pictures of pets.
That's been helpful for shelters who may adopt animals far beyond their borders, according to Metro-East Humane Society Director Kathy Turner. Adoptive families come from all over the state, she said - just this week, they adopted a pet to a family in Decatur.
Sarah Lindow found Comptroller's Critters through a search engine, as she was seeking a companion animal for their aging Labrador mix, Louie. The family lives in Marine, and Lindow really connected with Harper, who was a stray housed at Metro-East Humane Society.
"He's got a lot of energy, but he'll lay on your lap," Lindow said. "He looked really sweet and seemed really friendly."
Since his adoption, Harper has gotten along very well with Sarah's daughters, 17-year-old Paige Kellerman and almost-2-year-old Gwendelyn Lindow. And now the family has a new member: Renley Lindow, 8 days old the day they met with Topinka.
He even gets along with Louie the Labrador, Lindow said.
"The dogs frolic in the back yard, they get along fantastic," she said.
About 80 percent of Metro-East Humane's animals are unclaimed strays from Animal Control officers, Turner said. After seven days, Animal Control turns them over to the shelters. Metro-East Humane is a no-kill shelter, but it handles upward of 1,000 adoptions a year, Turner said. "We have a lot of adoptions going through here," she said.
Topinka said the Comptroller's Critters program is steaming along with more than 2,500 adoptions. It's not just about finding good homes for animals, she said -- it's smart business. Abandoned animals cost local governments $300-600 each, she said.
"When we have abandoned animals, it costs counties and municipalities a lot of money," Topinka said. "As someone who knows the value of a dollar ... it's good monetarily and humanely. It warms the cockles of my animal-loving heart."
Topinka said she has two Scottish terriers at home named Jack and Nora, and has always had "secondhand pets."
"There are so many wonderful animals out there that need homes," Topinka said.
And many of them are kittens, Turner said, as the warm weather makes it "kitten season." More than 30 kittens have been adopted through the shelter just in the last few weeks, she said.
Any publicity for individual animals or the shelter itself helps find homes for pets, Turner said. Topinka said her staff continues to try to recruit more shelters to join, particularly Animal Control centers and kill shelters where animals are put to sleep if they are not adopted within a certain amount of time.
"(The program) has really gone beyond our expectations," Topinka said.
Metro-east shelters participating in the program include Metro-East Humane Society, Hope Rescues in Alton and Clinton County Animal Control Shelter, as well as shelters statewide that specialize in particular breeds like greyhounds, Dobermans or Alaskan malamutes.
More information can be found through the comptroller website at www.illinoiscomptroller.com.