BEECHER, IL — A thief broke into a barn at the Settlers Pond Exotic Animal Shelter and drove off with the 60-acre nonprofit farm's only tractor on Thursday.
Home to rescued alpacas, camels, kangaroos, monkeys, sheep, goats, emus, tortoises, lizards and more, the shelter really needs that $17,000 piece of equipment to move water, hay and feed to the animals.
Without the tractor, a 12-hour workday has become 18 hours, says Aircolina "Pinky" Janota, who told her story to Sun-Times Media columnist Donna Vickroy.
This is the second tractor theft at the shelter in Beecher. Five years ago, through the generosity of Joyce Dennehy, Janota and her husband Rolly were able to replace the first stolen tractor.
“We were very close to her. She was like my mom,” Janota told Vickroy. “Most of these animals were rescued by her generosity. So when they stole that tractor, they didn’t just steal a piece of equipment, they stole a piece of our hearts.”
Their hearts are big — big enough to care for more than 300 abandoned, wounded and lame animals.
Would you like to help? Apply to be a volunteer. Donations can be made to Settlers Pond, 1301 E. Offner Road, Beecher.Phone: 708-663-8103 | Website: settlerspondshelter.net