Medical Fund Stories

These are the sweet babies that have been helped by Zach's fund, along with the stories of the special help each of them needed. Our thanks to the Leathers family for helping all of them, and our thanks to you for considering a matching donation to help even more animals who need extra help.

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Colonel mustard

Colonel Mustard

Colonel Mustard was brought in to our clinic for TNR surgery from our local partner CatVando. He had been frequenting a yard of one of their regular feral cat caretakers. On arrival to the HHS clinic for his neuter procedure, it was discovered that he had severe Feline Gingivostomatitis, similar to Stephen’s story. He was drooling blood-tinged fluid, had significant URI symptoms, and overall was not a candidate for TNR and release due to these illnesses. Luckily, Colonel Mustard was not feral and could be admitted into our adoption program where he could receive the care he needed. He was scheduled for a Full Mouth Extraction with our local boarded veterinary dentist. Unfortunately, there are a small percentage of cats for whom FME does not completely resolve the symptoms of pain and inflammation. Colonel Mustard was one of these refractory cases, so we placed him on several medications to reduce the immune response in his mouth. We are working on getting the right combination of medicines to keep him comfortable, and he is happy in his foster home while we assess his response to these drugs before placing him for adoption. 



Stephen arrived at HHS from a partner shelter in Indiana, where they noticed that he was unable to eat because of a severe dental problem. He was suffering from a condition called stomatitis, a painful inflammation of the gums and mouth that essentially results from the cat being allergic to its own teeth. There is no cure and the recommended treatment is complete dental extraction. Thanks to the Zach Leathers Emergency Medical Fund, Stephen was able to receive treatment and is now happily recovering without pain.



When Davis was neutered at Chicago Animal Care and Control, they noticed that he was having respiratory distress. X-rays revealed that he was suffering from a diaphragmatic hernia, meaning that there was a hole in the muscle separating his abdomen and chest cavities. His abdominal organs almost entirely shifted into his chest cavity, constricting his heart and compressing his lungs. He could barely breathe. Without surgery to correct his condition, Davis would not have survived for much longer. Because of the Zach Leathers Emergency Medical Fund, we were able to immediately schedule a surgery consultation with a boarded veterinary surgeon.

Davis had his procedure on September 13, 2023, at VCA Aurora Animal Hospital. The surgeon told us that the hernia was extremely large and complicated and, based on his evaluation, he assumed that Davis was born with this defect. Davis spent two days in the hospital with a chest tube to make sure all fluids and air were removed from the space around his lungs. When Davis was discharged from the hospital, he went to an HHS staff member's home to recover, wearing a stylishly cute stockinet to protect his incision until it was healed.

Happily, it didn't take Davis long before he was adopted, and he now spends his days playing with his cat and dog siblings in his forever home.



Wyoming came to us from Texas where she was facing euthanasia due to massive pet overpopulation. She was with us for six weeks before being adopted. Sadly, just a few days after adoption, she was found collapsed with pale gums, unable to get up, and in critical condition. She was taken to the closest emergency clinic where she was diagnosed with anaphylactic shock. While we don’t know what caused this severe reaction (it may have been a simple bug bite), what we do know is that the Zach Leathers Emergency Medical Fund saved her life by allowing us to say yes to the emergency clinic when they asked if we would be able to pay for and commit to an intense process to stabilize her. Her shock was treated with multiple rounds of fluid therapy and medications to help raise her blood pressure and combat the severe reaction her body was mounting and she was hospitalized for 48 hours. While people with anaphylaxis typically have lung and breathing-related life-threatening symptoms, dogs usually present with severe blood pressure abnormalities, blood in their abdomen, and liver damage. Because of quick and thorough treatment, Wyoming made a full recovery and is now living her best life in a home, having been adopted in November 2023.



Charlie’s previous owners reached out to HHS when he suffered a femur fracture. They were unable to afford an expensive treatment plan or commit to the rigorous physical therapy that would follow stabilization of the fracture. Because of the Zach Leathers Emergency Medical Fund, we were able to say yes to taking Charlie into our medical care and he quickly saw an orthopedic surgeon who created a plan for him. After a rough start to life, Charlie was adopted in November 2023 and is now living happily with his forever family.



Penny came to us in January 2023 from an Illinois animal control partner and was originally said to be only a few years old. After arriving and getting her first medical examination, it was determined that Penny was actually a senior cat. HHS runs labwork on all of our senior pets and Penny was found to have hyperthyroidism, which is an illness that can cause chronic vomiting and weight loss despite a ravenous appetite. We started her on daily medications to combat this disease, she quickly became a staff favorite, and even made an appearance as a celebrity guest at our Unleashed fundraiser event! Although Penny gained weight and her coat became shiny, follow-up labwork showed that her kidney values were slightly elevated, which can often be the case after medication is started to control hyperthyroidism. At this time, HHS determined that Penny’s treatment plan would benefit from a thorough internal medicine workup and ultrasound. The Zach Leathers Emergency Medical Fund allowed us to send her for this thorough evaluation and she is being well-managed and thriving in her new home!



Gregory came to us as a puppy in 2022 showing symptoms of hypospadias, a birth defect in males in which the urethra forms abnormally and in the wrong spot, making urination challenging.

Our Medical Director, Dr. Kristin Tvrdik, determined the procedure was too tricky to perform in our medical clinic, so Gregory was treated at VCA Aurora clinic thanks to Zach’s Fund. Gregory’s surgeon amputated the deformity and redirected his urinary tract so he could eliminate comfortably and without issues.

Thanks to this specialized surgery, Gregory is now living his best life in his forever home!



Lily was a paralyzed, seven-year-old dog who loved humans, but not other animals. We worked to get her the medical treatment she needed for her leg paralysis. Unfortunately, life is not always what we want it to be. Lily was eventually diagnosed with cancer and we knew the best path was to let her live out her days with the people she loved the most.

So she became a member of our shelter family, spending most of her days surrounded by the little humans she loved the most in our Humane Education program, and barking at all of the bigger humans in our offices, to get attention and lovies. With all the strikes against her—her misunderstood breed, her paralysis, a skin condition—she never wavered in her love of life and her humans. She worked her way into all of our hearts and found her family with us. Families take on different forms and look different. She was ours and we were hers.

Her story shouldn't make you sad. Lily spent the last year of her life doing the things that made her the happiest. She gave and received love from staff and volunteers, played ball at Chicago White Sox field, was welcomed as a member of the Brookfield Police Department K9 Unit, played with her favorite giant egg toy, and ate all the ice cream she could handle.

As we sat with her in her last moments, we were so grateful she was able to teach kids that differences make you special, that pit bulls are a magical combination of sassy and sweet, and that no matter what your circumstance is in life, you need to find joy.

Although Lily's journey looked different, her legacy will live on, and we are all forever changed by Miss Lilith Ann Marie and her zest for life, no matter what.

Parvo pup


Logan was part of a litter that suffered from a case of canine parvovirus in 2021. This left his immune system severely compromised, resulting in him catching an upper respiratory infection. Logan needed to spend two days at the emergency vet where he had to be put in isolation and receive fluids to help his tiny body bounce back. Fortunately, Logan is a fighter and was able to recover and go home to his new family!


Bella Donna

Bella Donna came to us from the La Grange Park Police department as a stray. Her ears were terribly infected, so much so that it had caused a complete hardening and closure of her ear canals. We can only imagine the pain she endured during that process. Thankfully, our Medical Director, Dr. Kristin Tvrdik, was able to get her on medication to halt the infection and ease her discomfort.

However, the damage was done from her end stage ear infection and her journey wasn't over there. She underwent two procedure to remove her ear canals in order to live a life free from pain. Her loving foster home supported her throughout this ordeal and, after realizing they couldn't live without her, adopted her.

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