First, we want to share a warm and huge thank you to all the many shelters and rescues who are submitting their wonderful stories and photos of the abandoned pets they are helping go from homeless to adopted. Since we can’t publish them all, we’re just sharing the grant recipients’ stories here on our Shelter Blog. Here’s one now…
Congratulations to the 1st $1,000 grant recipient from the 2013 Adopt-a-Pet.com Happy Beginnings Fund! Here’s how this grant will help their adoptions program create more Happy Beginnings for homeless pets… like the Jasper, don’t miss the photos at the end!
Forget Me Not Animal Shelter
- Describe how a $1,000 grant will help your adoptions program create more Happy Beginnings for homeless pets:
We are the only animal shelter in an extremely rural and impoverished county (Ferry County) in Washington State. Ferry County has an area approximately the size of Delaware, including large portions of Colville Tribal lands, and large swatches of state and national forest. We seem to be a magnetic dumping ground for unwanted pets, many of whom are lucky to be found by hikers or hunters, often several miles from the nearest home.
The number of abandoned, abused, and neglected cats and dogs in our county far exceeds the number of available qualified adoptive homes; as a result, we have built a thriving (though costly) distance adoption program.
Our distance adoption program relies heavily on the advertising provided by Adopt-a-Pet.com. Potential adopters find our wonderful available pets online, where every listing lets them know we have monthly deliveries to the Seattle (about 6 hours each way from us) and Spokane (about 3 hours) areas.
Adopters fill out our online application; we then check property records, landlord permissions and requirements (if applicable), vet reference, personal references, require photos of the home and interview questions with the potential adopter, all to be sure the pet and family will be a great match. About 80% of our placements are outside Ferry County, including placements in California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska!
Once a month, we gather all the pets adopted closer to Seattle or closer to Spokane, and drive them to a meeting place where they and their new families are united. They then begin a 30-day trial adoption; we have a money-back guarantee on every pet we place, and work with our distance adopters throughout the trial period and beyond, to help them succeed with their new family members. If a placement does not work out for any reason, we will pick the pet up on the next monthly delivery run. The work we put in prior to placement has kept our return rate extremely low; only a handful of pets each year end up coming back into the adoption program, with the most common reason being undiscovered allergies.
Each Seattle transports costs between $150-$250 in gas and, for “short day” months, lodging for our volunteer drivers; the Spokane transports cost approximately $40 in gas. There are additional expenses for upkeep on our shelter-owned transport vehicle (an old but sturdy modified Ford Windstar van). Average annual expenses are approximately $3000-$3500, of which our adopters usually kick in about 40% in additional donations. The rest is covered by donations or grants, such as the Adopt-a-Pet.com Happy Beginnings grant (which would cover about 1/3 of a year’s transport expenses, a wonderful contribution).
Forget Me Not is technically not a “no-kill” shelter, because we accept every stray or impounded pet within Ferry County (without receiving government funds except in the case of impounded pets that are held pending trial). However, the distance adoption program has effectively created a “no-kill” outcome for Forget Me Not; throughout the 9 years we have been taking in abandoned, abused, and unwanted animals, we have never had to euthanize a pet due to lack of space or length of time at the shelter. We believe our distance adoption program and transport expenses are vital to saving hundreds of lives every year, and without funding for this program, we would not be able to place every pet into a loving and appropriate family.
- Tell us your favorite “Happy Beginnings” story about a pet you adopted into a loving home! We encourage you to attach a photo or two showing the pet happy in his or her new home, and/or any “before” pictures too:
There are so many from which to choose! I think my personal favorite of our most recent placements is Jasper.
Jasper arrived at the shelter as an 11-year-old Labrador/Boxer mix boy, who was impounded by the county after his owners moved away and left him at their former rental home. They had told the landlord they would be back for their dogs (Jasper came in with a 5-year-old Boxer and an elderly Chihuahua), but after a month had gone by, the landlord had no choice but to ask the sheriff to remove the abandoned dogs.
The owners were located and came to Forget Me Not, where they paid the impound fee for the Chihuahua and took him away… but said “you can have the other two,” leaving Jasper and his Boxer friend homeless.
Some dogs might become depressed, but Jasper seemed to really enjoy his time at the shelter; we believe he was mainly left outside all the time with his former family, so the one-on-one indoor attention and play time he received from our wonderful volunteers seemed like a grand improvement to Jasper. We did worry that it would be difficult to find a home for a dog nearing the end of his life, but optimistically listed him and hoped for the best, while continuing to make him happy and comfortable for what could be the rest of his life at the shelter.
Thankfully, our distance adoption program did the trick for Jasper, and he was adopted to a wonderful, loving woman in the Seattle area who needed Jasper just as much as he needed her. While no one can say how many years Jasper has left, we are all thrilled that he will spend his last years happy and loved.
Thanks for all you do to help homeless pets!
Jasper the day he arrived at the shelter:
Jasper at the shelter:
Jasper in his new home with his new adopted mom:
To learn more about Purina’s support of animal welfare organizations around the U.S., and to see if you are eligible, visit www.purinashelterchampions.com