Austin Shelter Groups – We’ve got an Invite for you!

Last week, Ash and I got a chance to talk on the phone with Tracy Blinder, who works with Lippe Taylor, the PR firm in charge of Rachael Ray’s Nutrish dog food (many thanks to Caroline of Romeo the Cat for introducing us). She told us all about the new project that Nutrish has started called My Shelter Site. It’s a place for shelters or rescues to go to create their own website – complete with hosting, design, and content management system (WordPress – my personal favorite!).

She also informed us that she is coming to our own Austin, Texas to talk with all the shelters in the area about what this project can do for them and why it is so very important to have a good, user-friendly and functional website. This mission is near and dear to my heart and I am so happy to help spread the word about it. This outreach program is open to all non-profit shelters who are interested in or need a service such as this. Click on the flyer for more details:

Click on this flyer to see it fullsize!

The Details!

When: Tuesday, June 15th @ 6-8pm
Where: The Cork Room @ J Blacks [website]
Address: J Blacks Feel Good Lounge
710 West 6th Street (Near Avenue C)
Austin, Texas 78701

If you would like to RSVP, please contact 212-598-4400, or email Tracy Blinder (tblinder@lippetaylor.com) or Allison Good (agood@lippetaylor.com) and let them know that your shelter or rescue would like to take part in this awesome event. We hope to see you there!

#BlogPaws [Part 4]: You Can #BeTheChange!

I’m sure a lot of you have heard of this movement already. It’s been HUGE on twitter and across the blogosphere since the BlogPaws conference last weekend. This video has practically been going viral and it’s easy to see why. It’s a simple concept and yet the potential impact for animals everywhere is unimaginable! The video is also incredibly touching and no one seems to be able to watch it with a dry eye. Already people have raised close to $1000 for a no-kill rescue in Columbus, Ohio: Pets Without Parents. Challenges are being laid down all over the place for more people to get involved and do their part to help animals. It’s already a well-organized, well-oiled machine, getting out an incredibly important message that people seem to be responding amazingly well to. To think this all started with a session at the first-ever pet bloggers conference…

I had the pleasure of attending the “Be The Change You Want to See” session. No lie, and I told this to all of the panel speakers I met, this was my absolute favorite session! Seriously, I was quite mad at myself afterward for not having taped it. I hope they come together next year for another session! It was so inspiring and motivating that I was all gung-ho and ready to make a difference even before they threw down the #BeTheChange challenge! The panel consisted of Dr. V from Pawcurious, Dorian Wagner from Your Daily Cute and Lynn Haigh from Pawpawty.com and was moderated by Jane Harrell from Petfinder.com.

Jane started the session by talking a little about Petfinder.com. She talked about how Petfinder began and that in and of itself was one of the most awe-inspiring stories about helping animals I’ve ever heard! Did you know that Petfinder was created back in 1995 by Betsy and Jared Saul, a husband and wife who dared each other to make a real difference with their New Year’s Resolutions. They decided that the internet needed to be utilized to help shelter animals get more exposure and they began by personally entering the information and photos of homeless animals around New Jersey. As they grew, they decided to expand nationwide and they have never looked back! 15 years later and Petfinder has helped to unite over 15 MILLION pets with loving owners! I can’t even begin to imagine how incredible the Sauls’ must feel. Their one, relatively small decision has changed the lives of 15 million animals for the better. 15 MILLION! Wow. Just wow.

First up from the panel was Dr. V who was very charming as she told of her “harebrained” idea to raise money by eating dog food. She thought it would be something small but quickly found out that people really enjoy watching other people eat gross things. She raised more than she ever expected: $2250, which with a matching donation from the incredible people at k9uisine.com, meant a total of $4500 for the shelters she was supporting! Not bad for crazy scheme, huh? Now crazy is something I can do. In fact, it’s what I do best. I come up with silly ideas and Nikki helps bring them to fruition. We can make a difference too! (By the way, to raise money for today’s #BeTheChange challenge, Dr. V also ate some Pupperoni! Yum!)

Next to speak was Dorian Wagner who related the stories of how she has raised not just money but also toys for animals in need! I love her idea for the Santa Paws Drive and can’t wait to help her raise awareness this year! Can you imagine the happiness that would come from giving homeless pets their very own Christmas presents? I know they’re animals but you will never for one second convince me that that they did not feel that they were loved when they received those toys! They knew that someone in the world cared for them and that’s the best Christmas gift you could ever ask for!

Last, but most certainly not least, on the panel was Lynn, who is probably best known for being the typist for @frugaldougal on twitter. He’s the hairy mastermind behind what has become one of the biggest pet sensations on twitter – the PawPawty. A PawPawty is an all-twitter, 24-hour “pawty” held to raise donations for different animal rescues & organizations that are randomly chosen from suggestions of participants. The first PawPawty was held back in March of 2009 and in that very short amount of time, the PawPawties have raised a total of $26,060 for 17 different animal groups! Isn’t that just incredible? I am in awe! Lynn, who is always entertaining, told great stories about the blunders she found herself in as she learned the ins and outs of raising money online. The tale that probably got the most laughs was the one where PayPal contacted her & suspended her account because they thought she was a money launderer! Haha! All I can say is that I’m glad these bumps in the road didn’t deter her because the animal world wouldn’t be the same without her and Mr. FD!

At the end of the session, they gave away some cute prizes and one lucky winner got to choose the shelter that would receive the donations raised by the first #BeTheChange pawty. As it turns out, the woman who won worked with Pets for Parents, one of the groups who were lucky enough to receive $2800 from BlogPaws, as well as presents from a few of the sponsors! They must have some major karma built up to be so lucky! The majority of #BeTheChange participants are raising money for this group and they have already doubled the set goal of $500. That’s awesome for them! However, since they have so many people backing them already, I’m going to help raise awareness for another group in need of donations.

Romeo Golon aka Romeothecat and his staff Caroline also pick animal groups each month that they raise donations for. This month’s rescue is Forever Home Feline Ranch which is a newer no-kill cat rescue based in Springfield, Illinois. They are currently without a physical ranch but are instead a dedicated network of fosters. Who knows, the donations raised could go towards getting them a real ranch! For more information, check out the FirstGiving page set up by Romeo here. This looks like a great group and I know they can use all the help they can get. Being a foster is not easy but these wonderful volunteers do it because they know they are changing the lives of the cats they save. Can you help them out?

Now don’t think you’re alone in taking up this challenge. Nikki & I have something up our sleeves for the #BeTheChange pawty as well but that won’t be announced until this Sunday. For now, let’s get out there and help an animal today! That being said, time to go feed the ferals that live around our house. ^_^

Chimp Sanctuary Interview!

Hey everyone! It’s that time again! We have another interview from a great organization! We here at ILRA are pleased to introduce you to (or simply allow you to learn more about) Chimp Sanctuary Northwest! I first heard about Chimp Sanctuary when I found them on twitter (@ChimpSanctuary). I read through their tweets & learned about their wonderful chimps and I was hooked. I even won a twitter contest they had for knowing that it was Foxie who loved to play with trolls & got some very pretty cards! I hope you will all take the time to go read the bios of all the chimps. Trust me, it will make you smile to know that after all they’ve been through, they now have an awesome home and will live out the rest of their lives in happiness!

Chimp Sanctuary

What is the full name of your sanctuary?
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest

Where is Chimp Sanctuary located?
Just outside of the town of Cle Elum, WA

When was your sanctuary established?
The organization was incorporated in 2003. The chimpanzees arrived June 13, 2008.

What is the mission of your sanctuary?
To provide lifetime quality care for formerly abused or exploited chimpanzees, while advocating for great apes through education and collaboration.

How did you decide which chimps to rescue? Were they all ready to be retired?
Construction on the sanctuary began for a group of five to seven chimpanzees, but the exact chimpanzees had not been identified. In 2007, the sanctuary learned of seven chimpanzees at the Buckshire Corporation in Pennsylvania. Buckshire had tried to place the chimpanzees years earlier in another sanctuary, but that had fallen through. The chimpanzees had been “waiting” for sanctuary within cramped cages in a windowless basement at Buckshire.

Is the sanctuary big enough to add more chimps? Do you plan on doing so in the future?
The building was designed for a group of five to seven, so we are pretty much at capacity. In addition, it can be very difficult to integrate adult chimpanzees with one another. We would like to be able to provide a home for other chimpanzees in the future.

How is your sanctuary run? Is it mostly volunteers?
There are five staff members that do everything from caring for the chimpanzees to grant writing, outreach and construction and about 40 regular volunteers.

Where do you get your funding?
The majority of our funding comes from individual donations. We also receive grants from private foundations and we’ve received some corporate support (from LUSH handmade cosmetics). We do not receive any government support.

Tell us more about your sanctuary. What makes it unique?
There are only a handful of sanctuaries for chimpanzees in North America and each one is unique. We are able to provide very individualized attention to the chimpanzees at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest because the group is small. This also means that we can share the personalities of the individual chimpanzees and our supporters can learn a lot about them. We have a blog that we update almost daily with photos, video and stories, a Twitter account, and Facebook pages, including individual pages for each of the chimpanzees.

Do you have a favorite story you’d like to share?
There are so many! Everyday the chimpanzees do amazing things that illustrate how intelligent, resilient and individualistic they are. We’ve seen remarkable transformations in the less than two years the Cle Elum Seven chimpanzees have been at the sanctuary. For example, when Jamie arrived at the sanctuary there was a large patch on her belly that was plucked down to the skin. Looking at her records, it was clear that she had done this for years. Her hair starting growing back immediately and she hasn’t plucked it out since arriving at the sanctuary. Jamie is extremely intelligent and is constantly up to something – she’s just one of those people who’s wheels are always turning. She creates projects for herself with the toys and other objects that we provide the chimpanzees. It’s heartbreaking to think about the years she spent in the laboratories with nothing to do but pull her own hair out, but we do all we can to make sure she has fun, new things to do everyday from now on.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
The sanctuary is not open to the public, but we do share the chimpanzees with people through our website and social networking sites.

Where all are you located online?

Website: www.ChimpSanctuaryNW.org
Blog: www.ChimpSanctuaryNW.org/blog
Facebook Causes page: Cause Page
Facebook Fan page: Fan Page

For the chimpanzee’s individual Facebook pages, search for their name (Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy, Negra) followed by “Chimpanzee” (so, Jamie Chimpanzee’s page is: here).

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue Interview!

Hey everyone! We have a special treat for you today! We’re getting our “Featured Rescue” & “Featured Organization” sections going again, beginning with this great interview with HOT Lab Rescue! This is a great organization that not only saves labs in and around Austin, Texas, but also does great work in helping to network other animals in need. I highly recommend following their twitter account @HOTLabRescue for super cute lab pictures, great news from the animal world & Austin, and the occasional cheering on of a certain local football team (Go Horns!). If you like what HOT Lab is doing and would like to help but are not in the area, you can always donate to support them. A direct link to their donate page can be found on our front page underneath their Featured Rescue banner. I’m sure you’ll make more than a few labs smile. ^_^

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue

What’s the name of your rescue?
Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue

Where is your group located?
Central Texas, Servicing an area of approximately 150 miles around Austin. Thus we cover Austin to San Antonio up to Waco West towards Fredericksburg and East to Bryan/College Station. And of course all points in between.

When was your rescue established?
1998

What types of animals does your rescue help?
Labrador Retrievers

What is the mission of your rescue?
The Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue is a non-profit 501(c)(3), all-volunteer organization based in Central, TX. Our mission is to rescue Labrador Retrievers and place them in loving forever homes.

How is your rescue run? Is it all volunteers?
Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue is an all volunteer and all foster organization.

Do you have a building or is your rescue work done all through foster homes?

HOTLab Rescue works primarily through foster homes, with dogs placed in local kennels should foster home not be available when a Lab is taken into the program.

Where do you get your funding?
Funding comes from donations to our organization. Being a 501c(3) organization all donations are Tax Deductable.

Tell us more about your group. What makes it unique?
HOTLab Rescue has been characterized as more of an eHarmoney style of matching families with their forever Labs. During our application and interview process we learn more about what a family is looking for. That information combined with the information that we know about the Labs in our program from the foster families allows us to present better matches when a family comes to a private meet and greet. At the meet and greet the family will meet 3-5 Labs that match what they are looking for.

Often times HOTLab is brought in to rescue Labs that shelters would have a hard time placing in their current state. Such as dogs that need heartworm treatments, surgeries and other special needs. Prior to any adoption each Lab is treated for whatever ailments they may have and brought current on their shots.

Do you have a favorite adoption story you’d like to share?
Sophie a young female Labrador whose rescue prompted the formation of Heart of Texas Lab Rescue. Sophie was part of a puppy mill, and as a result, was comfortable around other dogs, but at-tempted to escape all human contact. After several months of slow pro-gress, Sophie encountered a setback and became even more fearful of hu-mans. Seemingly there were no options left for Sophie to live a content, peaceful life and euthanasia was considered. However, before good-byes could be said, we received a call from the person who adopted her “cell-mate” from the puppy mill, Rusty. The adoptive family opened their homes to Sophie as well. Sophie and Rusty were reunited. Sophie and Rusty have both since passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
You can learn more about Heart of Texas Lab Rescue at our website www.hotlabrescue.org additionally you can follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/HOTLAB and on Twitter as @HotLabRescue where we are the most followed Labrador site on Twitter.

Georgia Funny Farm Interview!

Hey everyone! I know, I know, we’re finally getting our butts in gear and getting this site going again. The whole one computer thing kinda killed things last month but we’re back and rearing to go! I am very excited to announce our new Rescue of the Month: The Funny Farm. I’m sure lots of you have at least heard something about them from their twitter account @gafunnyfarm. If you haven’t and you’re on twitter then they are a MUST to follow. There are always the cutest pictures of the sanctuary’s cats and other gems such as a puppy & a deer making friends. There are also cute tales from the Farm such as Colleen falling asleep alone and waking up with 16 kittens on the bed! Seriously, follow them and there will always be something to cheer you up when you need it.

Of course, what really matters most is not what they can offer you but what they are doing for animals in Georgia. The Funny Farm rescues animals of all sorts but their main passion is kitties. I believe they have something nearing 70 cats now after the last rescue (one time not long ago they rescued ALL of the cats due to be euthanized at one shelter that day – no lives lost!) The reason this is so important is that while there are animals dying in shelters every day, cats have the worst of it. I’ve seen statistics saying only 1 in 12 cats will ever find a home. That staggering statistic is incredibly sad but rather than scare people off from trying to rescue them it should get them highly motivated to help great people like those at The Funny Farm. Our philosophy here at ILRA is “The Starfish Effect“: every ONE counts. That being the case, just look at how incredible what the Farm has done is!

Now here’s the part where you can help: they are currently trying hard to raise funds to build a fence around an entire TWO ACRES of their farm. This will be an open area for all of the cats to live & play in and once completed will allow for even more cats to be saved. They’ve currently raised just over $2000 of the $6000 they need to get it all done. Anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated both by them & the rescue kitties! Visit their main page to donate (at the bottom). And now (finally!) I present you with the interview!

What’s the name of your sanctuary?
The farm is called The Funny Farm, and if you have ever been here you understand why. The cat sanctuary is going to be called The Heaven On Earth Rescue Cat Sanctuary. It is being built in honor of all of the kitties who never made it out of the shelter and for those that did.

Where are you located?
We are in Wilkes County, GA. If you draw a line between Athens & Augusta we are right in the middle.

When was your sanctuary established?
The non-profit was established in 2006. That is the year we moved to Georgia.

What types of animals do you help?
We mainly focus on cats, but we have dogs, goats, pigs, ducks, rabbits, 1 rescue horse, a ferret & a guinea pig. There are about 100 animals at the farm.

What is the mission of your sanctuary?
Our mission is to help as many animals as possible. We started PALS (official name of the non-profit) to try and make people aware that they need to provide for their animals if something should happen to them. Most people never even consider that their animals may outlive them. This results in many once loved animals being put in shelters due to no other option.

How is your sanctuary run? Is it all volunteers?
At the moment my husband and I run the sanctuary with the help of my brother-in-law, Marco, and my mother Sharon. We have friends who come over to spend time with the animals, which to me is much more important than picking up poo.

Where do you get your funding?
We have no outside funding aside from donations. When you first open a non-profit it is very difficult to survive because it takes time to qualify for your 501©3 status which makes you unable to apply for grants. A lot of people think that being a 501©3 is what makes a legitimate non-profit. This is just not the case . Luckily our 501©3 is in the works which means soon we will be able to give tax forms for donations.

Tell us more about your sanctuary. What makes it unique?
The Funny Farm is a free-roam sanctuary. We think of our animals more like family than rescues. They, for most part all get along regardless of species. Of course there are a few that need their own space. People are always surprised to see things like a rabbit & cat hanging out together.
We have also set up a program called PALS that allows people to will us their cats so that if something should happen to them, their cat will come to The Funny Farm.

Do you have a favorite story you’d like to share?
I do but it’s not a kitty story. One day I was talking to my brother-in-law on the cell phone and I went outside. Cody, our rescue horse was standing next to the lean-2 we had built for him & the goats. One of the baby goats had somehow jumped up on the doghouse and onto the top of the lean-2 next to Cody, or so I thought. Cody took a step sideways and I realized that the baby goat was standing on Cody’s back! Of course I could not get a camera fast enough, what else is new.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
We are truly grateful for everyone who supports what we do. We would probably not have survived the first year if it weren’t for wonderful people who love the critters as much as we do. Thank you all for your continued support.

Colleen & John Palladini
www.gafunnyfarm.org