Those of you who follow our adventures know that Animal Village NM is a very special no-kill animal shelter. What is special is the commitment we make to every single adopted dog or cat, that as long as they live, they are welcome back in the safe arms of our staff, at Animal Village NM. If their adopters die, if they lose their jobs, or are unwanted for any reason by their adopters, we not only allow them to come back, but we fight to get them back from kill facilities or unsafe conditions. We make sure the adopters are experienced pet guardians with excellent recommendations from their veterinarians, past and current. We check references to get a feel that they are good, loving people. And we do a home visit to make sure the home is, “pet safe.”
We didn’t always do that, and we had a horrible amount of returns. Today, since we raised our adoption standards, there are fewer, and most are those adopted when our standards were, “Hey, they look trustworthy, and their family and friends say they are.”
It’s a LOT of work to adopt this way, and a lot of people (especially those who haven’t given good care, chain their dogs, or have given up pets in the past) don’t like being asked questions. “Wow, this is like adopting a child!,” they say. “You ARE,” we reply. “You’re adopting OUR child, our donors’ children, our volunteers’ children, our staff’s children. You’re adopting the love and effort and joy and sadness that we all invest in each of these babies, of all ages” all sizes, breeds, dogs or cats who have already been abandoned before we got them off death-row.
Funny thing is, the people who care the most about their pets, don’t mind much at all. In fact, they say, “We’re glad you do it this way, if you care, it means they’re healthier, happier, better socialized pets, and that is important to us.”
Our donors are happy we do adoptions this way, because they’re like us. They don’t want to rescue someone, and then find out that that dog or cat they fell in love with, and donated their hard-earned money to help us save, was then killed in a facility somewhere, and we did nothing. They don’t want us to say, “Hey, good luck, Sparky,” and wave goodbye as they go off with a stranger, and know that like other rescues, we say, “Hey, we won’t take them back if you don’t want them later, so don’t call US!”
Believe it or not, many rescues say just that. We don’t feel that (and this is just OUR opinion of how WE want to do it) this is a rescue, if we don’t continue to care about the precious lives we’ve saved. We will always love them, and loving and caring are two different things. Mike Arms, one of our heroes, (CEO Helen Woodward Animal Society, CA’s largest no-kill sheleter) said to Nancy Berg, our co-found and I, “Everyone who comes to Animal Village NM will say, ‘We love animals.’ What you will have to learn fast is, who loves them, and who will CARE for them. That’s going to be the deciding factor in who you hire, and who you adopt to, and who you allow to volunteer to work with the animals. Everyone will TELL you they love animals, but your job is going to be to figure out who loves them, and who is going to CARE for them.”
Today, we do a better job of that, I think. We don’t have a ‘pet scan’ to see into someone’s heart, so we have to work harder on references, and rely more on veterinary histories. Leopards don’t change their spots. People who abuse or neglect will probably continue to do so. People who have kept their pets for a lifetime, given them great veterinary care and training, will probably continue to do so, with our babies.
We have had an incredible month of re-rescues, having to re-rescue pets from Florida, New Hampshire, Nebraska, and currently, we’re trying to save Skylar from Virginia. Each pet we re-rescue, each pet we adopt, increases our expenses. Each pet means more paid staff hours, more food bills, more veterinary bills, higher workers’ compensation and unemployment premiums and monthly fees, more bookkeeping hours, cleaning and care supplies, and utility expenses.
This is why we need your help, now and on a monthly basis. We’re at a crossroads, with the incredible opportunity to buy the property we are renting, but needing to know if we can get this beautiful no-kill shelter, the largest in New Mexico, funded- with YOUR help. To get grants and loans to build our new shelter on the 7 acres next door, we have to be able to show the banks and grant-makers that we can pay the bills we have already.
Will YOU help us, by becoming a one-time or monthly sponsor? We need another 240 monthly sponsors donating $25.00 per month, to pay our current expenses- or another 600 sponsors donating $10 per month. Even if you can donate just $5 per month, it all adds up to a beautiful, funded no-kill shelter in America’s poorest states, with one of the highest pet abandonment rates in the country. These dogs and cats deserve your help, they deserve all of our help, they deserve good lives. We need your help and loyalty, to rescue not hundreds each year, but thousands of these loyal pets.
Please become a monthly donor today, using the link below, in any amount you can- it ALL adds up to precious lives, in loving new homes.
Sunny Aris, Director, Animal Village NM