ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Donna Apgar, an advocate for animals at the Winnebago County Animal Services, passed away Wednesday after a battle with breast cancer.
Apgar appeared numerous times on the Eyewitness News in the Morning show’s “Pet of the Week” segments over the years.
Her sisters, Karen Thomas-Lindstrom and Sandra Thomas say her love for animals started when she was young.
“She was an advocate for animals because they can’t speak for themselves, so she spoke for them,” Thomas said. “It’s a family thing. It cam e from our dad, because she had two dogs and I have two dogs.”
Apgar worked at the animal shelter for 26 years. In 2015, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
“We were very close as sisters, all three of us, growing up, though most of the time it was, on any given day, it could have been me and Sandy against Donna, Donna and Sandy against me, me and Donna against Sandy, you know how that goes,” Lindstrom said.
Jennifer Stacy worked with Apgar for more than two decades at Winnebago County Animal Services, and says her presence will be missed.
“She made a big impact on the facility, the community, all the animals she was able to successfully place. It’s a big role that she filled while she was here,” Stacy said.
Apgar’s sisters say her passion was finding permanent homes for animals.
“That’s what gave her the most pleasure in life, was making sure they got placed in quality ‘forever homes,'” said Lindstrom. “She adopted this kitty because, otherwise, he would have been put down and he was an amazing cat, probably because of all the love he got from Donna.”
One thing the sisters are certain about is the impact she had on their family and the community.
“She was one fantastic person that nobody is going to be able to replace… nobody,” Thomas said.
The family says they want to create a foundation in Donna’s honor to help to continue saving animals.