BURNHAM - They have placed over 500 cats, 445 dogs and 23 birds locally since the rescue was established in 2004, and volunteers say the efforts of Rescue Our Furry Friends only continue to grow.
Bird coordinator Michelle Troup announced last week that ROFF was recently approved as an emergency placement partner with the Humane Society of the United States. If HSUS is called to assist with a large seizure of animals, Troup said ROFF and other partners will be called on to help place the animals.
To become a partner, ROFF completed an application process and provided HSUS with information about their organization. After receiving a notice of approval, volunteers agreed to travel within a 200-mile radius of Burnham to help relieve animals from cases of abuse, neglect, hoarding or to assist with animals during natural disasters.
Sue DeArmitt, left, holds Santana, a Military Macaw, while Wendy Bickhart looks on Saturday at a local fundraiser for Rescue Our Furry Friends. DeArmitt and Bickhart are board members of the rescue, which was recently approved as an emergency placement partner with the Humane Society of the United States. Those interested in adopting a pet, becoming a volunteer or opening a home to a foster pet can apply by visiting www.roff.cc, calling (877) 933-ROFF or emailing email@example.com.
"There are always animals in need. We want to be able to help if we can," Troup said about the partnership.
However, the number of animals she and other volunteers can help depends on the support of adoptive families and foster homes. ROFF operates as a no-kill rescue, meaning that rescued animals stay in the cat facility or foster homes until they are adopted. When placement opportunities have reached their limit, the rescue is unable to accept surrendered animals, said cat coordinator Diane Adair.
At this time, the cat facility is operating at maximum capacity. Adair said 21 cats are waiting for their forever homes, and the rescue has been unable to take in any new cats during the past six months.
Though ROFF's cats are all housed in a facility created by Adair, the dogs rely solely on foster homes. Dog coordinator Cindy McClellan said the rescue sees anywhere from 45 to 65 dogs per year. The number of animals awaiting homes could affect ROFF's ability to help with HSUS rescues.
"At the time we're called, there is the possibility we would have to say no," Troup said. "With this partnership...we will definitely need more foster homes."
Those interested in offering their home to foster animals can apply through the rescue's website at www.roff.cc. Troup said there is an adoption application linked to the website that can be used to apply as a foster family.
Even those who are unable to foster animals can help ROFF care for and place animals in the community.
"We're always looking for people to help care for the cats that we have in rescue," Adair said.
Likewise, McClellan invites animal lovers to volunteer with the rescue dogs that live with her. She said volunteers can make arrangements to stop by and walk or play with dogs.
Although there are no birds in the rescue now, Troup said the shelter can always use donations of gently used cages. One or two large macaw or cockatoo enclosures would be especially appreciated in case the opportunity to rescue large birds would arise, she said.
Additionally, ROFF volunteers encourage those seeking new pets to contact the rescue. All animals placed by ROFF come spayed or neutered with a preliminary veterinary examination and vaccinations. Because the shelter is small, McClellan said adopters have the benefit of knowing more about how the animal behaves in a home-like environment.
"They're in a family. They're dealt with on an individual basis every day," she said.
Foster families can offer specific details about whether a dog is housebroken or crate trained, whether he will tolerate other animals or children and what his energy level is. Cats are handled in the same way. Adair said she knows the personality of each cat and can tell potential owners whether the individual will get along well with other animals or children.
"We know our animals," she said. "We care about the animals genuinely and want them to go to the right place."
As more animals are placed and foster families are approved, ROFF's ability to help as an HSUS Emergency Placement Partner improves. Troup said she has been individually approved as an HSUS Animal Rescue Team member and will be present "on scene" to lend a hand during rescue situations. As a team member, she could be deployed anywhere in the United States and said she is anxiously waiting to find out where her first assignment will take her.
"I will be able to be there for some animals during most likely the darkest time of their life...show them warmth, compassion, a loving touch, a soft voice and hugs, if allowed," she said.
Rescue team members are only required to serve at one deployment per year, but Troup said she plans to help with as many as she can.
For more information about Rescue Our Furry Friends, visit www.roff.cc, call (877) 933-ROFF or email firstname.lastname@example.org.