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WCAS adoption coordinator retires after 26 years of finding pets new families

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Welcoming Donna Apgar on set become a weekly routine for 13 News at Noon.

She'd walk in to talk about our newest furry friend looking for a new home.

Apgar hasn't been to the 13 News station since COVID-19 began and it appears her last Pet of the Week segment has already passed.

The adoption coordinator at Winnebago County Animal Services is retiring at the end of June.

It will cap off over 25 years of connecting animals to people in the community.

"I like people and I like animals so when you combine those, especially when you make that great match when you know it's a great match it just satisfies you because you got an animal at home and you also made somebody happy," Apgar said.

"I just love those perfect matches."

Before her career of creating these stories of connection began, Apgar was working on a story of her own as a student at Rock Valley College.

She needed to put together a feature story for a journalism class, which led her to WCAS.

"Someone had mentioned there was a dog here that had an injured leg that they were trying to raise money to fix. I thought that would be a great feature article and I could do it as a fundraiser kind of thing," Apgar said.

That article led to a much larger assignment.

Apgar began volunteering at animal services in 1994 and eventually became the adoption coordinator in 2006.

As she looks back on her career, it only seems natural she gravitated toward animals.

Pets were always at a premium at home when she was a kid.

"We always had a cat or a dog. We've had gerbils. We've had hamsters," Apgar said.

"We've always had animals and the animals have always been someone else's throw away. We always got an animal as a stray or somebody had to get rid of their animal so we always took it in."

Animals have even returned the favor to Apgar for the help and kindness she provides.

In 2015, Apgar was diagnosed with stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.

She credits working with animals everyday to helping keep her positive through the difficult medical journey.

Apgar emphasizes her cancer is not the reason for her retirement.

Rather than letting her health decide when she is done, she wanted to go out on her terms,

"I'm looking forward to retirement but I have mixed feelings about it because I really love what I do," Apgar said.

"There's been a lot of little aspects that I have been able to connect with the community and hopefully I've made a difference."

Apgar is excited to join her husband in retirement, especially to go camping with her cat at home.

She also plans to continue volunteers and interacting with animals in some fashion.

Congratulations Donna!!

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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