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In 1975, Gloria Lissner rescued a dog abandoned in a South Dakota ghost town at the end of tourist season. As the town cleared out for the winter, Gloria knew the abandoned dog would be shot to death to save him from starvation—that was the way it was done in the old west. So, when the dog jumped into her van, Gloria took it as a sign and she took the dog home. She named him “Fido,” and as Gloria says, “That’s when my love of dogs became a way of life.” Fido would be the first of many dogs saved over the next 37 years by Gloria Lissner and her Chicago-based Famous Fido Rescue and Adoption Alliance.

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FFRAA Volunteers Andy Feliciano and Sue Babin, Photo Credit: Lori Wade

The mission of Famous Fido Rescue and Adoption Alliance (FFRAA) is two-fold. First, FFRAA is an animal rescue that takes in homeless dogs and tries to find them loving, permanent homes. The dogs come to FFRAA in many ways. Some are found as strays or are surrendered by their owners, and a large number come from crowded Chicago city-run shelters where thousands of animals are killed every year due to overcrowding and an inability to match animals with guardians in a timely manner. In 2009, more than 15,000 companion animals in the Chicagoland region were killed because they were homeless. This number frustrates and upsets Gloria and the hardworking volunteers at FFRAA because they know that most of the animals killed every year are young, healthy, and perfectly adoptable animals. Gloria and her team at FFRAA share a common goal. As she states, “We believe that responsible stewardship of Chicagoland’s companion animals is an imperative.” And Gloria Lissner and the people of FFRAA are working hard everyday to make it happen.

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Gloria Lissner, Photo Credit: Lori Wade

The second mission of FFRAA is to help make Chicago a model “No Kill” city where every adoptable companion animal can find a good home. Gloria believes that FFRAA can help influence the way other US cities treat the companion animals in their care. As Gloria states, “I have made it a priority to save dogs from death or a life of abuse by creating an alliance with other organizations that share the same vision.” To achieve this vision, Gloria has helped to create the Swift Response Network. The goal of this network is to get animals out of crisis and into homes. In the Swift Response Network, FFRAA teams with other Chicago-area rescue groups to identify animals in crisis, get animals out of city shelters and into rescues, transfer animals to rescues within the network to prevent euthanasia due to overcrowding, work with rescues within the network to get animals into foster homes and eventually into permanent homes, and educate people to prevent owners from abandoning their animals at city shelters. As Gloria passionately states, “We are trying to make it ‘not cool’ to abandon your animal.” To fund FFRAA’s two-part mission, Gloria sells canine-approved Famous Fido Rescue Cookies, which are made with natural ingredients and no chemicals or sugars added. Cookie sales and donations help FFRAA operate seven days a week. So far this year, Gloria and her team have rescued 300 animals for a total of roughly 5,000 animals since FFRAA began!

Gloria Lissner, Photo Credit: Lori Wade

Gloria Lissner, Photo Credit: Lori Wade

As is the case with many rescue groups, lack of space and money is always a concern for Gloria Lissner and FFRAA. Currently, FFRAA cares for 53 rescued animals. Thirty animals are living at the rescue office itself, and the rest are living in foster homes until they can be adopted. Gloria herself cares for 11 animals at her home, and she takes four home with her every night. Gloria has hopes to acquire a larger space soon, which would allow her to take in more animals. Beside financial donations, FFRAA is also in need of in-kind donations for items such as towels, cat and dog food, peanut butter, paper plates, paper towels, clothing detergent, cat and dog treats, cat and dog collars and leashes, and animal carriers of various sizes. To see more items on the FFRAA wish list, or to donate items to FFRAA, click here.

After 37 years, Gloria Lissner shows no signs of slowing down or stopping. As she says, “In the upcoming years there will be many more friends to rescue.” Gloria and the people at Famous Fido Rescue and Adoption Alliance are tirelessly dedicated to making Chicago a better and more humane place for companion animals, and this is what makes them Inspirational Broadway Barkers!

To listen to an audio interview with Famous Fido Rescue and Adoption Alliance founder Gloria Lissner, click here.

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