Joliet, IL March 23, 2023

The morning air was crisp and the threat of rain had been hanging over the region for days leading up to the event, on Saturday, March 11, 2023. The weather didn’t put a damper on the volunteers spirits as they prepared the tent in the parking lot of the Will County Office Building to take on the semblance of a MASH vet unit.

Tables, lighting, medical supplies, were all moved into place inside the tent that had been divided into 4 working areas, 3 for dogs, and 1 for cats. A space for 5 vet technicians to traverse as they vaccinated and microchipped 280 dogs and 64 cats.

A canopy set up at the end of the tent where the vaccines were dispensed to the technicians assistants. Copies of medical forms indicating which vaccines and microchips were handed out to pet owners as their pets were photographed to be added to the Petco Lost program. The programs goal is to aid in reuniting lost pets with their family’s should the need arise.

Owners were ask to pre-register online and then issued time slots to arrive at the pop-up clinic. They were assured the vaccines and microchips were free, the registration of chips would be taken care of for them and all they had to do was show up with smile.

There were big dogs, and small dogs, medium fluffy dogs, and cats in all assorted colors. The vet technicians made quick work of it all while explaining the importance of the vaccines and assuring the nervous parents that the microchip will only hurt for a minute. The cooling spray seemed to work well to numb the area and at times it appeared the Chihuahua’s were yelping just at the thought of being microchipped.

The Will County Executive Office, under the leadership of Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, provided the marketing of the event and space in the parking lot central to downtown Joliet for the event. While Will County States Attorney, James Glascow, a huge animal advocate provided the tent in which the K9 Enrichment Initiative team worked.

Through the generous sponsorships of Petco Love Non-Profit the Distemper/Parvo vaccinations were provided through their 1 Million Vaccine Campaign. Petco Love will allocate 1 million free pet vaccines to its existing community-based animal welfare partners to distribute to family pets in need. K9 Enrichment Initiative based in Plainfield, Illinois is one of Petco’s partner’s conducting clinic after clinic.

K9EI Organization Executive Director, Cynthia Lynn Guzman told us that, “As long as Petco Love is providing free vaccines for the community, we will be out in the neighborhoods administering them. It is heartbreaking when an animal dies from a disease that could have been prevented through vaccination. As a rescue we have brought in 22 puppies in the last 10 months who were dying from Parvovirus. The virus is intensive and expensive to treat with the pups being hospitalized for 24 hour care. As I mentioned prior it’s also heartbreaking when a puppy doesn’t survive despite the veterinarian’s best efforts against a preventable disease”.

“Although many pet parents already vaccinate their pets with these core canine and feline vaccines, many cannot afford or are unaware just how important this standard preventative care is to ensure the health and longevity of our beloved pets,” explained Dr. Whitney Miller, Petco’s Chief Veterinarian at the launch of the campaign in 2021. “While vaccines have been available for decades and are highly effective in preventing deadly diseases, the best way to ensure overall pet health and wellness is to make them readily available for all.”

Petco Love wasn’t the only big name helping out this particular event, K9 Enrichment Initiative reached out to their supporters to raise funds for 300 Bordetella vaccines. “We basically posted a Facebook Fundraiser asking supporters to fund a vaccine for a pet in need with a $10 donation”, explained K9EI Rescue Community Outreach Director, Cristine Cortez-Gonzales. “Neighbors helping neighbors, animal lovers helping animal lovers, makes a big impact on how much we can do”.

Events and Volunteer Director, Andrea Warcaba was all smiles as volunteers worked through the cool weather and at times the language barrier. “We tried to get as many English-Spanish volunteers on the team for the clinic knowing we would have older pet owners who may not speak or understand English”. “The registration process, marketing materials, signage was in English and Spanish to welcome all into participating, we wanted to be as inclusive with our volunteers as we are as in our rescue leadership roles”, pointed out K9EI Rescues, Administrative Director, Marie Rocks-Baker.

In walking the parking lot there was signage thanking the big corporate players, Fi Nano who provided microchips, Max & Neo with their donation of collars and Chicago’s Rescue Pack who supported the event with a donation of 3 pallets of food, pooper scoopers and pee pads.

By the time the cold sprinkle of rain began to fall, the last of the pet owners were leaving with their complementary fresh baked treats and poop bags as the muscle of the volunteer team and K9EI directors packed up the moving truck with supplies, equipment and disposed of the empty pallets.

A day of giving, 6 hours, 19 volunteers lead by a 5 person rescue team changed the lives of 256 companion pets and their family’s. When I asked Cynthia Lynn Guzman, Executive Director her final thoughts on the day she expressed, “I am cold, exhausted and blessed to have the privilege of helping animals and the people they love”.

If you would like to support K9 Enrichment Initiatives’ Community Outreach program you can donate at the links below. Corporate sponsors reach out to This program helps prevent illness through administering free vaccines, as well as keep dogs from having to be surrendered to overpopulated shelters due to illness. Be part of the solution.

Donate via: (telephone code 6309)

PayPal Giving Fund

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s