A Fire Devastates the Chicago Rescue Community

As I sit here, I’m crying again for what seems to be the hundredth time. The sadness of yesterday’s events ebbs and flow through me as I try to focus on tasks and work.  Yesterday, at least 29 dogs lost their lives in a fire at a kennel in West Chicago. Hearts in the rescue community are shattered as we pick up the pieces and try to move forward while honoring what happened.

At 5:30 am Monday morning, a fire was reported at D & D Kennels on County Farm Rd. Firefighters arrived to a massive blaze coming from the second story of a building that housed approximately 60 dogs. The building was also home to Garrett Mercado who trained and boarded dogs in need. The fire took everything from him, including his own dogs.

The kennel wasn’t just a place to house dogs, it was a place for them to learn social skills. To experience what love is, and to learn to trust humans. Most of the dogs that were at D & D Kennels had some sort of behavioral issue that needed correcting. They were dogs that would otherwise have had no options left.

I did a photo shoot last summer with two of the dogs that K9 4 Keeps boarded there. Nala, a sweet potato of a pup, and Rocky, a smart, happy, goofy boy that loved to play with tennis balls. Rocky had been at Garrett’s for awhile. He had a high prey drive so he was difficult to place within a home. But he loved people, and he loved Garrett. Rocky perished in the fire yesterday, a fact I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

You see, I tried to write this post last night. I wanted to let everyone know what was going on. But it’s just all so sad. I experienced only minor heartbreak compared to those who also lost dogs. The fire affected 15 rescues and many individual dog owners. The rescue community mourned together yesterday to support and cry with one another.

But out of sorrow comes greatness. From heartbreak, we find the strength of the human spirit. Yesterday, at 1 p.m., Tara, Margaret, Jessica, Shelley, Lindsay and myself set up a GoFundMe in hopes of raising a little bit of money for Garrett and the rescues involved.

This money will not lessen the pain everybody feels, but it will be used to continue to help dogs that have no chance otherwise. It will honor the lives that were lost and it will help us build a future for so many that need a second chance.

If you’d like to contribute to the affected rescues click here.

Two dogs are still missing in the West Chicago area. If you live in the Carol Stream area please be vigilant and call Dupage Animal Control at (630) 407-2800 with any sightings. Both might be injured and scared so please do not approach.

Simba is a brown pittie mix, you can see more details about him here.

Boo is a white pittie mix, more details about him here.

For now, we continue to mourn while looking to the future. Many of the organizations feel at fault, wishing they could have done more, that what they did wasn’t enough. My belief though is that the dogs that passed in the fire finally knew what love was. Before coming to D & D Kennels, their lives looked bleak. But at the time of their passing, they were loved and  they were happy. They had more than enough.

Rest easy my friends and run free.




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6 thoughts on “A Fire Devastates the Chicago Rescue Community”

  1. Beautifully said!
    I dtill can’t wrdo my head around tbis horrible accidrnt. I can’t imagine the sorrow and loss Garrett is feeling. My heart breaks fir him and the furry souls that lost everything.

    1. Thank you Maryanne, it was a day full of heartbreak and Garrett’s broke the most. Thank you for reading and taking the time to care about these beautiful souls.

  2. Like many who know him, my family is so impressed and indebted to Garrett for the help he gave us in trying to keep our red nosed pit bull Zoey. He went above and beyond in helping to train her and even when all else had failed, went to court with my husband to try and negate the dangerous dog designation unfairly placed upon her because of her breed. Garrett is a “magic man” with animals and I can’t express my heartache over his loss. I hope he realizes all the lives he has affected and holds that in his heart in this difficult time. We’re hoping it helps. If you speak to him please let him know we care for him and all his friends that were lost

    1. Hi Rebecca, what kind words. Thank you so much for the beautiful story and outpouring of support for Garrett. I agree that he touched so many lives and he truly has a way with animals. Thank you again for the letting me know, I will certainly pass it on to Garrett.

  3. My dog Harley passed in the fire. Harley was a private owner dog ! My dog Harley knew love, compassion and most of all that he was loved unconditional ! So please do not forget the private owner dogs the matter .

    1. Hi Cathy, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the pain you are feeling. I apologize that there was no mention of the private owner dogs in this post originally. I’ve updated the post to reflect just that. Thank you for reaching out and may you find comfort in your memories of Harley.

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