As the holiday season draws near, consider donating to a shelter doing the most
By KELLY MILLER
NOVELTY – Rescue Village, an animal welfare agency in Geauga County, is a wonderful place to visit if you are looking to adopt cats, dogs, small animals or barn animals. And even if you’re not adopting, it’s a great cause worthy of a charitable donation this holiday season.
Offering a variety of adoption services, a behavioral hotline for new owners, trap-and-release spay and neuter services to help curb stray cat populations, education programs and events, rescue operations and more, Rescue Village is a staple of animal care in Geauga County.
According to its mission statement, it is determined “to act on behalf of animals and inspire people to build a more humane community.” Having adopted out thousands of animals every year and provided medical care to even more, all while educating local children and their parents, the shelter has certainly reached that goal.
If you’re looking for your next best friend, Rescue Village has you covered. Whether you’re interested in a more traditional cat or dog or you want to expand your barnyard group with chickens and pigs, chances are you’ll find an animal to love on its website.
“Our website is always up-to-date in real time,” said Lisa Ishee, the external affairs director. “As soon as an animal is adopted, it comes off the website. And as soon as we have an animal available, they’re up on the website.”
This makes the search process easier. You’re not going in blind. But certain animals do get taken quickly, so if you have your heart set on one, get to the shelter as soon as you’re able.
“Puppies [and young animals] go very quickly,” Ishee explained. “But adults aren’t in as high demand and they end up staying longer.”
Shifting your expectations of adoptable animals to include older ages will increase your chances of finding a wonderful companion. And it will help an animal that may never have gotten a home otherwise.
Regardless, Rescue Village will make the process as smooth as possible for adopters.
“We have all sorts of transition recommendations…our counselors work with people to help them figure out what they need,” Ishee said. “All the dogs go home with their own collars…and owners can purchase carriers for cats…and we like to send them home with their blankets.”
So long as potential adopters ready their home for an animal, “they can usually bring home an animal the same day,” according to Ishee.
Rescue Village is more than an animal adoption agency. It provides many services to Geauga County and Ohio at large to benefit people and animals alike.
The Trap-and-Release (TNR) Program helps reduce free-roaming cat populations all over Northeast Ohio. The shelter will help capture, spay or neuter and release cat populations whether or not they are in Geauga County. To get this service in your area, simply fill out an application online.
According to Ishee, “Fix It In The Farmland,” is one other extension of the shelter’s push to spay and neuter. In the interest of protecting wildlife and improving all animals’ and communities’ lives, Rescue Village offers reduced prices for owners looking to get their cats and dogs fixed. The program also offers vaccines and flea treatments.
But perhaps Rescue Village’s greatest community service is its education programs. Offering to teach at schools and community events, Rescue Village provides many avenues to educate community members on compassionate treatment of animals, behind-the-scenes animal rescue and animal care.
One way the shelter provides community education is through events. Participating in events is also a good way to actively donate with registration fees while gaining a wonderful experience in return.
Attending events is a great way to donate while having fun at the same time,” Ishee explained. “Making lasting memories with your friends while spending time with the animals is a great way to engage in our community and get to know us better.”
Special Events Manager Jamie Smith encourages everyone to consider signing up for the Slumber Party sleepover coming Saturday, February 19, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“People fundraise and stay overnight to gain more awareness of what it’s like to live at the shelter,” Ishee said.
“We are asking people to fundraise a minimum of $1,000 each. We’ll have a platform that people can donate to directly online,” Smith explained. “We found last year that it was very easy for people to fundraise for this because it is such a unique event. Your friends, family and colleagues will want to support you…and we’ll help every step of the way.”
The event will consist of a Facebook Live event, a hike, training sessions and other fun activities. But perhaps the most anticipated part is sleeping in a room with one of the shelter dogs or cats.
“People get to interact with an animal in a way they wouldn’t if they just came in to visit at the shelter,” Smith said. “We provide the space, and whatever people want to do with that space, so long as it’s safe for them and the animals, we let them.”
Some people brought matching pajamas for them and their animals, decorations, toys, treats and other creative inventions.
“The goal is to give people a behind-the-scenes look at what the journey is for the animals once they come here,” Smith said. “[Participants] can then be ambassadors [to the community] to speak to the fact of what it’s like to be these animals waiting for their forever home, the importance of adoption, the importance of supporting your local shelter.”
“We have wonderful staff here, but we get to go home at night. The animals don’t,” Smith continued. “That is the educational component of this event. Yes, we want to raise money. It’s important for the mission. But so is the educational component. It’s important to adopt from and support your local shelters.”
Because the shelter can only hold so many people, registration to this event is limited. Last year’s event had only 15 spots, according to Smith. More information about how to sign up is coming soon to Rescue Village’s website.
For those interested and hoping to learn more now, Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Ways To Donate
If set events don’t fit with your schedule, there are other ways to support the shelter in-person. Currently, Rescue Village has lost many volunteers and had to close new sign-ups due to COVID-19.
“We had over 600 volunteers. Now we’re down to under 200,” Ishee said. “That’s been really tough.”
But the closure of volunteer registration may change soon. As need grows, particularly for those willing to help with events, housekeeping, fostering animals and greeting potential adopters with paperwork to fill in, Ishee encourages people to reach out by phone if they are considering donating their time. Ishee is extension 18 on the main line (440-338-4819) and can also be reached at email@example.com.
“We’re keeping a list of interested people,” Ishee said. When volunteering reopens, the shelter will contact individuals to find a good fit.
If you simply do not have the time or ability to volunteer, gift-giving is also a wonderful way to support the shelter.
“We have a shelter wish list online,” Ishee said. “It’s always ongoing and anything someone can provide us from that would be great.”
Gifts of direct money donations also go a long way, particularly in the holiday season.
“Through the end of the year I believe we have a matching campaign going on. Every dollar becomes two dollars thanks to a generous donor,” Ishee said.
Regardless of what’s given, support for the shelter is vital.
“Donations are how we run the shelter…We are completely community driven,” Smith said. “[With community support,] we’re able to give these animals a second chance.”
Opinion: Adoption made easy – the writer’s story
My family has adopted from Rescue Village in the past. Our current cat, Frankie (pictured left), popped up on their website just a week after our beloved dog passed away. We knew she was meant to be ours. Within hours of seeing her online and falling in love in-person, Frankie came home with us.
We were nervous to shift from a dog to a cat. But the shelter staff present that day worked with us to make sure we had everything we needed to bring Frankie home. They provided a cardboard perch and carrier with blankets from Franklin’s previous home to help her adjust. They also made it absolutely clear that we could reach out for more help or questions. Everything about our experience was easy and full of kindness.
Extended members of our family have utilized Rescue Village as their go-to shelter because of how wonderful it truly is. Between us, we have adopted over six animals.
Frankie had been surrendered by her previous family due to a claim of allergies. The shelter took Frankie, a young but well-loved cat, and gave her a chance at a happy life. The painless surrender services and easy adoption process at Rescue Village helped two families and one great cat.
If you are a first-time adopter, unsure about where to go, looking for an animal currently or even considering surrendering your animal, consider visiting Rescue Village. I promise it’s worth it.
Not sure where to start?
View a brief website tour here: https://youtu.be/E9VD4K2M7LA
Kelly Miller is a student at Tri-C. She wrote this article for her News Writing class and can be reached at S01279423@acad.tri-c.edu.