Monday, March 30, 2009
We had a very successful weekend at the WBAY Pet Expo in Green Bay! We raised $1,337.69 at this event, which will go straight to pay for our veterinary bills. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth.
Donna, Amy, Natalie and I had a great time - met lots of wonderful pet lovers, both who stopped by our booth, and also stopping by their booths too. The ladies from Lost Companion were great! It's so awesome to be partnering with them and helping them out with adoptions, since they're so rural and adoptions are harder for them. We hope to save many more kittens with them this year!
We are truly blessed by what happened next on our journey.
Seven of us decided it was time to start our own rescue. A rescue dedicated primarily to helping cats, kittens, dogs, puppies and some small animals...to save their lives, one at a time. We would provide compassion, love and the highest quality of care for each animal, in the comfortable and loving environments of our own homes. And if any extra care and nurturing is needed for pets who may otherwise be deemed unadoptable--the shy, the sick, the orphaned, the injured, the abused, the neglected, the unwanted misfits...well, we'd take them too. Because every life is worth saving.
A lot of hard work and 6 months later, we have our official 501(c)(3) nonprofit status letter from the IRS, we've saved 186 animals, placed 133 into new loving forever homes, and raised enough money to barely cover our vet expenses and supply costs (ALL donations go directly to the pets - we don't have any staff, we're 100% volunteer-run). We have seen support from the community that is absolutely wonderful. We are so excited at what we will be able to do for homeless pets in Wisconsin as we continue to grow.
This is us - the Core 7. It's truly amazing what 7 motivated women can do. We hope to find more motivated animal lovers to join us and make our impact even greater!
Smoochie stole my heart from the minute I picked her up at the shelter, because she was the runt of the litter and about half the size of her siblings. The vet tech didn't think she'd make it through the night. But with careful, monitored force feeding of Recovery food and KMR, round-the-clock, and lost of other efforts like keeping the humidifier running and the foster room a good temperature and also of course lots of loving and handling and playtime...Smoochie made it!
Smoochie was adopted twice and came back to me. She was returned the first time because the woman said having a cat was too much responsibility (what? try a dog!) but I was happy to have her back. I think adopted her to a friend, who tried it for a few months, but her older adult male cat just did not like little Smoochie. So Smoochie came back home to me again.
I told my husband it was meant to be. He reluctantly agreed. He is such a good husband, did I mention that before?
And then there were four.
Michelle and I made an amazing trip to Best Friends in Kanab, Utah for their "How to Start an Animal Sanctuary" seminar, in April 2007. It was one of the most moving and remarkable things I have ever done. This group is truly an inspiration to anyone who wants to help homeless animals. I'd love to model a shelter in Wisconsin like them someday.
Love-Love was a miracle baby. She was found as a feral kitten in a barn and would elude capture for weeks and weeks...until she got sick. When her rescuer found her, she was so sick that she was limp and let her pick her up in her arms. She brought her to Michelle and Saving Paws, and Michelle immediately cared for her with all the special ways you can try and save a dying kitten...which require a lot of time, money and effort. She and her sister tag-teamed her care, and after a few weeks, she was finally eating on her own and started to act like a normal kitten again.
So we put Love on the adoption floor, but she was so scared and timid, she would get overlooked. I interacted with this sweet little dilute calico many times when I was out there, and I began to feel a strong connection with her. It was meant to be that I adopt her.
After an interesting conversation with my husband about how the only thing that would make me feel better about turning 30 would be to adopt a sweet little kitten...he caved, and Love came home to live at the Anderson casa.
By the way, she is the spunkiest, goofiest, cutest little love-bug now...definitely anything BUT shy. She is a joy and we are so blessed to have her.
And then there were three...
Shortly after I returned from my trip to MS and I got all 14 of the kitties we brought back adopted, which took a couple months of vet runs, foster home coordination and lots of marketing, I met Michelle McRae through a mutual friend, Donna Gasbarro. Michelle was thinking of starting her own no-kill animal rescue. I was so excited because this had been what I'd always wanted to do myself.
We planned everything out, got lots of help and advice, and Saving Paws was officially born in September 2006. We worked our butts off to get this little organization up and running. We soon networked out and found that there are a lot of wonderful people in our community who are willing to held and support our efforts. By April 27, 2008, we had placed 845 once-homeless pets into new loving forever homes.
The friends I went with ventured down into New Orleans to pick up some of the kitties and dogs that were found wandering the streets, sick, scared, without food and water...it was horrible. They took a lot of pictures of the complete devastation that was down there. These give you a flavor of just how bad it really was. They said the entire place was covered with a film of white, and nothing felt safe. It was a sad, sad situation.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Humane Society of Louisiana had lost everything, including their building, after Hurricane Katrina. But they had just purchased a 1200 sq ft small brick ranch on 4 acres that was 2 hours north of New Orleans in Tylertown, MS. This because their emergency disaster response center.
Volunteers would go out on the streets of New Orleans during the day, rescue as many pets as they could, then come back to Tylertown at night with them. We'd have intake at night and do all the paperwork and vet checks, and then place them in appropriate temporary housing. The volunteers like me who worked most of their time at the shelter caring for the pets would then care for them until other shelters and rescues could come and take some away to keep them safe until their owners could be found, or if they were surrendered by their owners, to be adopted into new loving homes.
Here are some pictures of the disaster relief center in Tylertown.
These are the other three girls who went on the 18-hour drive down there with me... Jen, Brooke and Jennifer. We also drove a wonderful pit bull sweetheart named Lola back down with us. She had been rescued by a volunteer from Wisconsin who had been in LA the previous week at a dog shelter that had 600 dogs there and only 3 family reunions while she was there. She had decided to take Lola back to WI with her to foster her until her real family could be found. Lo and behold, the family had been able to return to their residence and saw her number spray painted on the wall and called her, and wanted Lola back! They wanted to ship her on a plane, but since this is very dangerous, the volunteer called me since she knew I was going down there.
We took sweet Lola with us, who didn't make a peep the entire trip and mostly slept in her cage. When we finally made it to Jackson MS the first night (and got one of the last available hotel rooms, believe it or not!) we met Lola's owner, Vita. Vita was so excited to see her loving Lola that she cried and hugged her over and over. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of reuniting Lola with her family.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
One of the highest points in my animal journey. I recruited 3 other girls to rent a big van and drive all the way down to Mississippi with me to help with the animal rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We arrived in early October 2005, about 6 weeks after the hurricane had struck. We were at the Humane Society of New Orleans' temporary shelter, a 1200-ft little brick home on 4 acres, 2 hours north of New Orleans.
Some of the other volunteers that were there (from Canada, Maryland, California...all over!) would go into New Orleans and rescue animals off the street during the day - yes, there were still animals starving in the homes that had been abandoned - and would grab them during the day, then drive back at night to our shelter. The vet who was volunteering would then assess them upon intake and we'd put them in cages and care for them until rescues from across the U.S. and Canada would come in and take them out to their shelters.
We brought back 14 cats and kittens who had been surrendered by their owners because the owners had nothing left - they had lost everything in the hurricane and could no longer care for their cats. We nursed them back to health - they were all sick and traumatized - and adopted them out through Fox Valley Humane Association. It was a long, hard process to get them healthy, but very rewarding when we found the last of the 14 new homes.
No shower for 4 days, a porta-potty and sleeping in a van. But I didn't care. It was 100% worth it and we were going on pure adrenaline.
It was a life-changing experience and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Mid 2005 and my main goal was to get homeless pets into new forever loving homes. I had some success...including my friend Kay adopting Jenna, a homeless chocolate lab pup, and taking in my first foster kitty, Phoenix, who had been abused.
In early 2005 a group of friends and I decided to start a nonprofit to help terminally ill individuals with their pets, to find those pets loving new homes in order to offer peace of mind to the person. Kelly and Ally, my friends in the picture, were on the Board with me. We had quite a few meetings and were well on our way to becoming established. However, Hurricane Katrina hit soon thereafter, and my life changed...
Friday, March 27, 2009
In 2003, I brought the idea of petfinder to FVHA, telling them it was an amazing tool to promote adoptions...I went to the shelter every week and took pictures and then posted them online for them...the result was an amazing increase in awareness and adoptions. This is a picture of one of my friend volunteers who helped me take the pictures (it's usually a 2-person job!)
We adopted Magoo from the Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay about 9 months after we adopted Mackenzie. He was a spunky little kitten and has been my joy ever since we brought him home. He is very moody and has had every health problem in the book, which is why I know he was meant to be with me - I would take care of him. He is the love of my life.
In 2001, I helped Fox Valley Humane Association get in as the pro bono client for Directions Incorporated, the advertising agency I work at. They were our pro bono client for three years. It was a wonderful experience, to be able to work and learn while helping a client that I loved. In the years that we helped them, we did market research, a marketing plan, public relations plan, and lots of marketing materials such as brochures, sell sheets, posters, signage and much more, including a 1000+-page Web site, www.foxvalleypets.org.
We also helped them with their capital campaign to build a new shelter building. This picture is of my husband and me with our first cat, Mackenzie, who was adopted from Fox Valley Humane. Debbie Daanen Photography donated their time to take beautiful pictures like this for the capital campaign materials. This was a nice picture because it depicted how adopting a furry family member made a difference in our lives.
In August 2003 I went to the American Humane Association's annual Humane Conference in Denver, as a representative of American Partnership for Pets. APfP was a coalition of national animal welfare groups that was formed by the folks at Prevent a Litter Coalition, with the common goal of promoting ideas that would benefit all homeless animals. The main idea we were promoting at this event was the spay/neuter postal stamp.
The actual Benji "star dog" was at this event. This is me holding Benji. I got to meet her and hold her! (Yes, the actual "actress" was a female). They had held a competition across animal shelters in the U.S. to find their next star for the movie, which came out that year. This little girl was found wandering the streets of Mississippi and was in a shelter down there. The directors met her and she was the winner and thus the starring leading lady in the film. The film's director trained her to do everything. Another reason shelter dogs rock.
I met the Wisconsin Governor in March 2003 at the Wisconsin Governor's Conference on Tourism. When I shook his hand, I asked him to support puppy mill legislation. That's when I knew I had the courage to speak my mind in animal welfare. I was surprised I didn't feel embarrassed bringing this up; instead I felt empowered.
I'm Emily Anderson. I've been volunteering in animal welfare for close to 9 years now. There are a lot of ups and downs in animal welfare, but at the end of the day, it is full of some of the most amazing, rewarding experiences you'll ever encounter. I'm sharing my story to inspire others. Join me and let's change the world. --Emily :)