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I first heard the heartbreaking euthansia statistics in Amerca in 2009. The housing crisis was reaching a crescendo, pets were being abandoned in foreclosed homes and consequently, rescues were inundated like never before. I was compelled to act and days later (I can be impulsive at times) began producing a coffee table book of dogs to raise money for rescues and bring awareness to the problem. I knew nothing about photographing dogs or publishing a book at the time, yet nine months later, I watched Ellen DeGeneres flip through the pages of Rover on her show after announcing she gave a copy to Oprah for Christmas. It was the culmination of months of serpenditipity and another in a long line of “signs” that I was on the “right path.”
Shortly thereafter, I began meeting with the directors of rescues. It quickly became apparent that they most were in dire need of financial support more than anything else. Therefore, I launched a program, which enabled donors to have their dog photographed and featured in the next edition of Rover. That program has since generated donations totaling more than one million dollars for over 25 rescues across the country. However, I take far more pride in the fact that we bridged many relationships between deserving rescues and generous donors who continue to support the organizations today.
Over the last five years, I’ve had the very unique opportunity to tour dozens of large pet rescues, while meeting with directors, as I worked on a project to raise money for and bring awareness to pet rescues across the country. During that time, I saw countless homeless pets, met some extraordinary people managing very effective organizations, but also encountered many poorly managed facilities. The experience was overwhelming, perplexing, inspiring and frustrating all at once.
I decided to share some of my experiences, observations and a few ideas in an effort to start a discussion and an exchange of ideas. Soon we'll be publishing an article about those experiences along with a "best practices" guide we hope will be used to help rescues run more effectively.