The history of Found dates back to an experience that Founder and President, Michael Heltzer, will never forget. After selling his successful furniture design business in 2006, Heltzer was deciding what to do with his manufacturing facility housed in a historic boatyard on the north side of Chicago. Heltzer has been an avid dog lover since he was young and at the time owned four dogs including two rescued Kuvasz named Bonnie and Clyde. Heltzer’s facility was home to Bonnie and Clyde as he was deciding whether to sell the property to a residential developer.
One morning, Heltzer was awakened by a panicked call from the facility caretaker. Clyde had become extremely ill and needed urgent care. He rushed Clyde to a local animal hospital where it was determined that he was suffering heat stroke and had a very poor prognosis. Through the intense efforts of Clyde’s veterinarian, he miraculously survived.
After Heltzer’s traumatic experience with Clyde, he wanted to insure that this would never happen under his watch again. He decided to cancel his plans to sell his manufacturing facility and called upon his good friend and now manager of Stay, Tatiana Chalita, to help him convert the facility into Stay, the largest boarding and daycare facility in the region.
Three years have passed and Stay has grown into one of the most predominate animal care facilities worldwide. It currently employs over 40 compassionate animal-loving employees and handles over 100 dogs on a daily basis. Heltzer added grooming and training, and teamed up with a local veterinarian to provide on-site orthopedic and alternative care.
Stay’s history of success as a boarding, daycare and training center provided a base for well-designed procedures in temperament testing, socializing, exercising and boarding. As Stay’s comprehensive experience and commitment to success continued over the years, neglected and abused dogs seeking rescue found their way into the care of Stay’s facility.
While at Stay, the rescued dogs underwent training, socialization and rehabilitation with Stay’s staff. The staff was able to get to know these dogs on a personal level, making the search for potential adopters that much easier. The excitement and personal satisfaction this has brought to Heltzer and his staff is the driving force behind the creation of Found.
Heltzer adopted two of the Stay’s rescued dogs including one named Henry, a terrier who was about to be euthanized. Henry is now Stay’s most prolific worker, doing all the temperament testing, swim demonstrations and even being the star of several television spots. Heltzer’s understanding and success with Henry and other rescue dogs reaffirmed his need to “give back” by giving more animals a second chance at life.
Heltzer and the Stay staff have committed their time and experience to creating practices that provide rescued animals an opportunity to enjoy the comfort of a stable environment while preparing them physically and mentally for a new long-term home.
When the adjacent building to Stay was put up for sale, Heltzer felt it was the perfect opportunity to expand his rescue goals. He bought the building and Found began to take shape. “To share a common location fully staffed with experienced caregivers, training and socialization facilities, partnered with customers that could be candidates for future adoptions is ideal, ” says Heltzer.