Since 2011, Bishop Plumbing in Des Plaines, Illinois, has not only serviced the area’s pipes, but also rescued dozens of dogs in need.
Several years ago, Bishop Plumbing owner Bob Melko was given a chocolate Lab for Christmas, who was befittingly named Oakum, as “oakum” in the plumbing industry refers to a fibrous material used to seal cast iron pipe drains. This cousin to the first office dog, black Lab Morgan (owned by company Vice President Brian Wilk), became such a loving and welcomed part of Melko’s life that he decided create “Plumbers for Puppies,” an outreach program funded by the company’s “It’s a Wonderful Life Foundation.”
With the addition of Buster, another chocolate Lab, the three dogs serve as Bishop Plumbing’s “pet ambassadors” of the program. They greet customers and boost office morale as they obediently, but eagerly, await peanut butter cookie treats given for good behavior.
In the past two years, over 100 dogs have been saved by the program. During service calls, plumbers have the opportunity to raise awareness, as do owners of dogs adopted through the organization. They hope through word-of-mouth to be able to triple the number of rescues in the coming years.
Operations Manager Kristina Curran oversees day-to-day procedures for Plumbers for Pups, which entails working with other charities, kill shelters and foster homes, as well as having the rescued dogs spayed and neutered and making sure their shots are current. Until they are adopted, the dogs are placed in foster homes.
“Some of the dogs that come into the program have been abused, neglected and treated as throw away garbage,” Curran said. “It breaks my heart, and Bob’s heart too, that people can treat animals this way. But then we hear of stories of people who open their hearts and homes to these dogs and inspire all of us to continue our mission, like the family who recently adopted Daphne, a pit bull and boxer mix.”
“Daphne came to Plumbers for Puppies with an infected eye, underweight and malnutritioned, and slated on “death row” at its former Illinois shelter,” she continued. “When she first arrived at Bishop Plumbing, she immediately hid under the table and remained timid for quite some time under her foster home care. Slowly but surely, Daphne came out from under her shell, yet remained fearful of most people and extremely cautious around other dogs. Miraculously, a Chicago pastor with five daughters saw Daphne’s picture on our website and came in to check her out. Striking gold, the pastor and his family fell in love with Daphne and vice versa. To this day, Daphne remains one of our most successful animal rescue stories.”
Melko and Curran aspire to one day purchase property and build a facility to properly house and show rescued dogs to potential adopters.
To adopt, foster or donate to Plumbers for Puppies, contact Kristina Curran at (847) 824-1800, email her at [email protected], or visit the organization’s webpages: www.bishopplumbing.com/plumbers-for-pups and www.facebook.com/pages/plumbers-for-pups