Get to know the dedicated members behind our organization!
Laura Sonnek – President
Jeanne Sweetwood – Vice President & Treasurer
Ed Glassner – Secretary
Board President Laura Sonnek was born and raised in southern Indiana and moved with her husband and young family to Homewood 12 years ago. Laura enjoyed growing up on a small rural farm and can’t remember a time when she didn’t have animals in her life. Her love of all creatures was passed on to her from her mother. Together they took care of cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, chickens, ducks and even baby possums.
Laura and her family have three of their own dogs, one cat, and a guinea pig. She and her family have a soft spot for bully breeds and Shepherd mixes. Her children especially love fostering puppies (they save the cleaning up after them part for mom and dad, though!).
Laura has fostered around 80 dogs and puppies in the last three years and is very excited about being a part of this new rescue, Heather’s Foster Dogs.
Jeanne Sweetwood currently lives in South Chicago Heights, Illinois with her family. Together with her husband and children, she has been fostering pets for the last 7 years.
Small dogs are absolutely Jeanne’s passion. Jeanne is particularly dedicated to rehabilitating and finding homes for older adult dogs. “So many people overlook the older dogs,” she says. “not realizing how wonderful they actually are and not knowing that they have so much love to give. Plus, older dogs won’t chew up your furniture like puppies will!”
Jeanne’s own dogs over the years have been rescues; she currently has a Shih Tzu, a Papillon, a Lhasa Apso, and a Chihuahua, all of which are rescues with special needs.
Board member Ed Glassner is 5-year volunteer and a 4-year foster at local animal shelter. Six months before Ed joined the foster group at the shelter, he met the group’s foster coordinator while she was teaching a dog obedience class. Hearing her talk about her program inspired Ed to think about fostering dogs in his own home, too.
While attending a shelter event, Ed talked with all of the foster volunteers and knew immediately he was meant to foster. Who wouldn’t want to join the cool kids?
Ed says he most enjoys helping timid dogs, with the help of his pack, come out of their shells.ike to meet new cousins,” says Ed. “The fourth, a semi-alpha female, generally tolerates them for a couple of weeks. Once the foster know his or her place, she likes them. I found that not only did I get to know the foster dogs a bit more so I could be truly informed when I talked to prospective adopters, but the dogs changed & grew as they learned from my pack of four that they could relax & be themselves.”
Heather Risser has fostered pets in her home for eight years. “I love when a dog gets to be a dog. I like when you get an adolescent dog and teach it some manners,” Heather says. In addition to the many foster dogs and cats she’s cared for over the years, Heather also has two dogs of her own: a German Shepherd and a German Shorthaired Pointer.
For as long as Linda Freshley can remember there’s been a dog in her house. For the past few years, it’s been more like three dogs in the house: her own two plus a foster.
When Linda’s children were little, she and her family had all kids of pets — furry ones, feathered ones, ones with fins. Even scaly ones! Every stray in the neighborhood always ended up at Linda’s house until the owners came looking for their lost pet.
When Linda’s kids were grown and she had more free time, Linda decided to give back, and it just naturally followed that she started volunteering at a local shelter. From there, Linda decided to make a difference by fostering animals in her home.
“Animals are too often discarded or abused,” says Linda, “and they have no voice, so we have to be that for them. It’s very rewarding placing a dog in a home where you know it will be loved and treated as a family member.”
Vic Sweetwood currently lives in South Chicago Heights, Illinois. Together with his wife Jeanne and their children, he has been fostering for the last 7 years. Vic has been a manager at a local chemical company for 23 years and also participates in local community affairs. Aside from work and service to his community, he still finds satisfaction in helping his wife Jeanne with the little friends that come through their home.
Kelly Glenn-Snyder lives in Mokena, Illinois with her husband and 2 teenagers. The Snyder house has always been open to many animals over the years, including a tortoise, frogs, turtles, koi fish, dogs, and cats.
Currently, Kelly’s home is run by a pack of three rescued Chihuahuas. Kelly has fostered and adopted out many Chihuahuas and other small breeds over the past year since becoming part of Heather’s foster group. She is excited to get to work on Heather’s Foster Dogs!
Amanda Heinemann has been fostering dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies since 2008. She currently shares her life with 3 rescue dogs, a few cats, and even a rescued chinchilla! Amanda also graduated from vet tech school and especially likes to help special-needs animals.
Joy Nyhanna’s fostering adventure started many years ago with a Pit Bull mix named Wonder. She was a very sweet, friendly dog in spite of not being in a loving family. When she came to Joy’s as a foster dog, Wonder was suffering with a broken leg that had been left untreated for weeks. Even though she was being fed at her former home, Wonder lived her life chained up outside, never knowing what it was like to be part of a family. Thankfully, Wonder was removed from the situation after someone reported the neglect.
At Joy’s home, Wonder was given medical care, good food, a warm bed to sleep on, and — just as important — she was shown love by a family of both humans and other dogs. When Wonder left Joy’s home for her forever home, Wonder was a much happier and healthier dog.
“I know I made a difference in her life and that is why I foster- to make a difference,” says Joy. Joy hopes Wonder’s story will inspire people to keep their eyes open and report animal abuse — “If you don’t, who will?” she says — and to consider fostering an animal in need.
Becky says she and her daughter Heather want to save all the animals in the world. We they know that is not truly possible — to save every animal — they still want to save as many as they can. Becky and her family believe that fostering is a great way to help and to give animals a second (and sometimes third or fourth) chance at their forever homes.
“It is so rewarding to know a pet and owner finally find each other through our group’s efforts and we will be foster parents to one pet or another forever!” says Becky.
One of Becky’s family members is a much-loved Shepherd-Beagle mix. “He was rescued,” says Becky, “and we wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Kristen is a single mother of two and a hardworking nurse. She has fostered many pets in the past, but especially loves caring for dogs with medical issues as it falls in line with her current career. Kristen has fostered on and off for about five years and has taken care of dogs with demodectic mange and dogs with broken bones. It gives her a great sense of pride and satisfaction to know she’s been able to help a sick or injured animal heal again.
Kristen has two rescue dogs of her own, too: a Shih Tzu rescued from a puppy mill and a Pit Bull-Boxer mix that had a broken leg at four-weeks-old and is now a fun-loving and vibrant dog!