Franklin Park women become animal activists
Fenisia Pacini,left and Mickey Selvaggio, right, and Mary Jo Keaty, not pictured, started an organization named Passion for Animals in Franklin Park Saturday Jan. 05, 2013 Pacini's cat named Coco and Luigi the dog | James C. Svehla~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 11:38AM
FRANKLIN PARK — Three longtime advocates for animals have formed a non-profit to educate the public on animal cruelty and animal care.
Fenisia Pacini, Mickey Selvaggio and Mary Jo Keaty incorporated Passion for Animals on Oct. 3.
“Fenisia is into (working to prevent) dogfighting, I’m into the cat population and Mary is more into the puppy mills,” Selvaggio said. “We each have our own special interests.”
Each has an extensive volunteer experience. Selvaggio, a retired administrative assistant from Children’s Memorial Hospital who lives in Franklin Park, became interested in stray cats about ten years ago.
“They were cats from the neighborhood and for some reason they would show up at my house with a bunch of little kittens,” Selvaggio said. “I started trying to find homes for them and having them spayed and neutered.”
She started off independent but later did volunteer work for the Human Society and Maywood-based CatVando. She’s also taken in seven rescued cats from the Hinsdale Humane Society over the years, the most recent two named Dory and Samantha Ninja Kitty.
Fenisia Pacini, also of Franklin Park, does estimates and manages the front office of a body shop during the day. She also has an extensive background in animal issues, which started in 1993 when she saw a commercial for Pets Are Worth Saving or PAWS, a Chicago based organization that does spaying and neutering.
“Then I started on my own doing (animal) cruelty cases,” Pacini said. “I would do research and call the anti-cruelty society or the police. I do a lot of online petitions for animal rights.”
In 2001 she began providing temporary housing for stray pets found by the village of Stone Park. She later became involved in helping stray cats through CatVando and in 2009 started giving presentations on dog fighting.
It was through volunteering at CatVando that the two met Mary Jo Keaty of Schiller Park and eventually decided to form their own organization. For Pacini, part of the inspiration was having a day job.
“With PAWS, I could devote the time I wanted to,” Pacini said. “A lot of its is during the day. Working full time, I can’t.”
Selvaggio liked the more local focus.
“We wanted something more local, more or less for our own area,” Selvaggio said. “More of a neighborhood kind of thing.”
Together they aim to educate people on animal issues. So far they’ve made presentations to Boy Scouts, groups in Maywood, and classrooms.
They’ve made presentations to children and adults about how to behave around animals. They’ve handed out literature.
In the future they aim to do presentations on humane education such as animal care, low-cost clinics, current laws and dog fighting. They also have dozens of information sheets to hand out at events and will see about bringing in experts – such as a animal cruelty investigator – to talk to groups.
Currently the Passion for Animals is seeking both volunteers and donations. The latter will be passed along to animal rescue groups.