Martha and Bill Fenton play with foster dog Emily, a 3-year-old mix, outside their home in Niles Charter Township. The Fentons have been fostering Emily for two years. Emily was dropped off at a veterinarians office after the owner ran Emily over with a car on accident. Bill said the owner did not want to pay for vet care. The Fentons said Emily, who is up for adoption, is housebroken, crate trained and fully healed. She is also good with kids and other animals. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT
Martha and Bill Fenton play with foster dog Emily, a 3-year-old mix, outside their home in Niles Charter Township. The Fentons have been fostering Emily for two years. Emily was dropped off at a veterinarians office after the owner ran Emily over with a car on accident. Bill said the owner did not want to pay for vet care. The Fentons said Emily, who is up for adoption, is housebroken, crate trained and fully healed. She is also good with kids and other animals.
Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Niles sale to benefit abused, neglected animals

Published 7:25pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bill and Martha Fenton have seen hundreds of animals come and go through their Niles home.

As members of Animal Aid of Southwest Michigan, the Fentons have been providing foster care for abused, injured and neglected dogs and cats in Berrien County for the past 13 years.

Bill said they’ve helped find permanent homes for more than 200 animals.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Bill, 81. “We take on the tough cases because a lot of people won’t. Somebody has to do it.”

Animal Aid of Southwest Michigan is a nonprofit organization based in St. Joseph, although it does not have a shelter. Instead, volunteers, such as the Fentons, take care of animals at their homes until the animals are adopted.

Sometimes the Fentons end up keeping animals that, for whatever reason, can’t be adopted out.

“We get attached to them — you just can’t help it,” Bill said. “I have some right now that will probably be staying with us. “

One of Bill’s favorite success stories involves a pit bull named Hope. The Fentons took in Hope about three years ago after she was found abandoned in an alley in the Benton Harbor area. Bill said Hope was found starving and pregnant and spent several weeks in a veterinarian clinic. Lacerations around Hope’s face and legs led Bill to believe she was used as a bait dog for dog fighting.

“She was in very bad shape, but we knew we wanted to take her in,” Bill said. “She was very scared of everything.”

Hope gave birth to 11 puppies shortly after the Fentons took her in. After giving birth, Hope warmed up to the Fentons. They still have her today.

“Now she is a very happy and active dog,” Bill said. “We love her.”

The Fentons volunteer much of their time and resources to taking care of the animals. In order to offset the cost, they will be holding a garage sale benefit July 5-6 at 1211 DeWitt Ave., Niles. It is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 5 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 6. All proceeds will go toward the animals of Animal Aid of Southwest Michigan and Dream Paws Rescue, out of Mishawaka, Ind.

For more information on how to adopt or donate, contact Animal Aid of Southwest Michigan at (269) 934-7729.

Visit them online at animalaidswmi.org.

 

Animal Aid benefit

What: Garage Sale

Where: 1211 DeWitt Ave., Niles

When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 5, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 6

Who: Bill and Martha Fenton, Animal Aid of SW Michigan volunteers

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