A Lesson in Empathy

By: | August 20, 2018

When all of the pets didn’t go home on ‘Clear the Shelters’ day, we didn’t go home either.

While 66 pets found new, loving homes on this day, our team of passionate, dedicated staff simply couldn’t stomach the thought of leaving those who did remain all alone. So, we thought by staying the night we could bring a little ‘home’ to the APA.

We piled in with overnight duffles, sleeping bags and inflatable air mattresses. Some of us came armed with multiple pillows, eye masks, and all of the other things we thought might make our stay more pleasant and comfortable. We were excited about being here because we love this work and couldn’t wait to let the animals cuddle up to us for the night.

The pets loved the change of pace (and space!) and really soaked in the extra snuggles and attention. We could tell it did wonders for their souls, and as you might imagine, it touched our souls, as well, but in a slightly different, unintended way.

For those who spent the night, it was an opportunity to see things from the perspectives of the animals who reside with us at the APA. I’m not sure any of us really thought about this in advance of staying the night, but merely thought of it as something fun and different. I know I didn’t.

It was definitely fun, but also a lesson in empathy. Many of us didn’t sleep well (or in my case, at all!). The sounds were different, it wasn’t as comfortable as the warm beds we are used to, and some rooms are pretty bright, even at night. While we knew we were safe and had the option to drift off to sleep, it wasn’t easy. Simply put, it wasn’t home.

For those who didn’t spend the night, we invited them to think about why. Of course, they wanted to be with family, in the comfort of their own home, or simply had other things they wanted to do. All very fair and understandable.

Then we thought about the animals and how their first night must be at the APA. For some it is the first time they’ve been comfortable, eaten a reliable meal and experienced warmth and kindness. For others, especially those whose families have had to give them up due to unforseeable or tragic circumstances, it is definitely not home, no matter how hard we try. I can imagine, especially for the latter, their first night is very similar to what we experienced.

Of course, our staff all knew we would return to our normal lives the next morning, but for our animals, they have no idea when that will happen. While we do our very best to show them love, care and compassion while they are staying with us, there truly is no place like home.

Thoughts on the Wording That Both Inspires and Divides

By: | July 24, 2018

We recently shared the TedX talk below with our employees. In response, one of our staff members, Edward Burch, penned the following thoughts when sharing the video with his friends. We were so moved, we felt it was worth sharing here.

By our stats, we could probably call ourselves “no kill.” But we don’t. For many of the reasons outlined here. I agree that the term is divisive as well as misleading.

I’m proud that our live placement rates are very high, and that those numbers are up from last year at this time. And it’s because of the committed work of our phenomenal staff.

We’re open admission, which means we’ll make room when other places say they’re full—even when we are also full. We do our best for every animal who comes under our care. Most of them find homes very quickly; some take a bit longer. And we never euthanize for space. We commit ourselves to finding a home for every adoptable animal.

Like the speaker, I am grateful for the progress of the past quarter century that has saved millions of animals thanks to the advocacy of the no-kill movement.

The optimist in me says we will continue to progress in saving animals at higher rates. The pessimist knows that the cruelties of the world ensure that my work, my vocation of finding homes for animals is in no danger of being rendered obsolete.

I’d love for us to be so successful that we put ourselves out of a job. I don’t think it will ever happen, but I’ll do my damnedest to make us so good at what we do that I have to start polishing my resume because the shelters are empty.

5 Great Ways to Give Back

By: | June 27, 2018

As a member of the Young Friends of the APA I spend time pitching in to the help out the adoption center as often as I can. However, like many people, a full-time job and responsibility to family and friends can leave me scratching my head wondering if there are enough hours in the day to make a real impact helping our furry friends.

This is why I was so excited to learn about a ton of different ways that anyone can help give back to the APA. And the best part? Most of these programs earn money for the APA just for doing the things you already do. Little things such as shopping online or walking your dog can all build up to make a big difference.

Here are a few tips for true pet lovers who want to go the extra mile to support the APA.

Facebook Fundraisers

In 2017 Facebook made it easier than ever for you to raise money for your favorite charity. This feature called, Facebook Fundraisers, allow users to raise money for a nonprofit organization of their choosing without ever leaving the social media platform.

You can create a Birthday Fundraiser or create an every-day campaign. You just select from one of the 750,000  non-profits on Facebook, set a goal amount, and enter a custom message. Your friends will see the post and a prompt to donate.

Each time someone donates they are prompted to share and invite their friends to contribute as well. Fundraiser posts and shares include a donation button that makes it easy to donate right from the News Feed.

Learn more about creating your own fundraiser here.

Goodsearch

Something as simple as searching the web can also donate funds to the APA. The website Goodsearch donates approximately 1 cent to the APA every time you use their search engine. Doesn’t sound like much? Just think about how many times you hit ‘enter’ on your search engine every day. Multiply that by 30 days, and you are talking about feeding a pet in need for over a month.

Personally, I chose to set Goodsearch as my default search engine. It is remarkably satisfying to watch your donation tick up as you go about the work day.

To sign up, visit goodsearch.com, click ‘Sign In’ in the upper right-hand corner and finally click ‘Join Now’. Select the APA under ‘Animal Protective Association of Missouri’ and you’re good to search.

Walk for a Dog

Possibly my favorite way to help the APA is simply by taking my dog for a walk!

The company WoofTrax developed the app, Walk for a Dog, to help raise money for shelters across the country. If you have an Android or iPhone just search for the app, Walk for a Dog, and download. Select “APA Animal Protective Association of Missouri”. Just make sure to open the app and hit “start walking” before leaving for your walk.

The more walkers, and walks, that an organization has exponentially increases the share of donations they receive. The best way to make sure you maximize donations to the APA is to use the app every time you take Fido for a walk, and to encourage your friends and family as well!

Amazon Smile

Another easy way some of your shopping purchases can make a difference at the APA is to make your Amazon purchases with Amazon Smile. All together, Amazon has donated nearly $55 million for various charities through Amazon Smile. Even better, Amazon Smile can be used by any Amazon customer. You do not have to be an Amazon Prime member to be part of the program.

How do you enroll in Amazon Smile? Instead of navigating to amazon.com to make your purchase, instead visit http://smile.amazon.com. The website will prompt you to select your charity, type “Animal Protective Association of Missouri” and viola! A portion of each of your future purchases will now be donated to the APA. Remember to save smile.amazon.com in your bookmarks tab. Any purchases made under the regular amazon.com link will not count towards the APA.

To learn more about Amazon Smile visit their site here. Don’t have an Amazon account? It is free to sign up here.

APA Wishlist

The APA is always looking for donated items such as sheets, towels, rags and shredded paper. However, as I am sure you can imagine, running a first-class adoption center takes a lot of specialized resources. In fact, there are many helpful items to donate that you wouldn’t have thought of. For example, educational materials, office supplies, and raffle items for special events are all critical to helping the APA function.

There are two places to find the important items that you can donate to help the APA. On the APA Website is a list of items that the APA is constantly in need of. Additionally, the APA maintains an  Amazon Wishlist which contains more specialized or hot ticket items.

Next time you are cleaning out your office, kitchen or garage make sure to head over to the APA’s wishlist first before loading up the trash can.

 And So Much More…

Despite all the detail in this article, there are tons more ways that you can help the APA beyond what I just mentioned. Of course, monetary donations or time volunteered are always appreciated, and much needed. Any way that you are able to show your support for the APA goes a long way towards connecting homeless pets in St. Louis to happy, loving families.

Other ways to donate include:

  • Honoring or Memorializing a friend, family member or pet
  • Purchasing a nametag displayed outside the APA
  • Attending APA and Young Friends of the APA events
  • Check to see if your company offers a matching gift for donations
  • Set up a reoccurring, planned giving, program
  • Earn money through using eBay with eBay Giving Works
  • Donate your used cell phone
  • Donate an old car or automobile

Also stay tuned for an update next month on the  Schnucks Community Card which will show how you can generate some serious cash with your grocery spending.

If you are looking for any information about these or other ways to help the APA, don’t hesitate to reach out! Give the APA a call at 314.645.4610 and ask for Patti, extension 123.

Many thanks to guest blogger and APA Young Friends member, Paul VandenElzen! We appreciate you!

An Imperfect Beauty – Bartholomew’s Story

By: | June 14, 2018

“No amount of physical beauty will ever be as valuable as a beautiful heart.” – Ustadh Saad Tasleem

Wabi-sabi is an Eastern philosophy most easily described as discovering the hidden beauty in imperfection. When working with animals, we find that almost every pet has outward beauty and an adorable way about them that is hard to resist, however, sometimes we need to look a little bit deeper, to practice wabi-sabi, in order to find the beauty within. That is the case with Bartholomew, or as he is affectionately referred to by our team, Pup-pup.

Pup-pup came to us when his owner’s family, who had more than 20 dogs in the home, realized that they were unable to properly care for him. With help from our transfer volunteers, Pup-pup and 14 other small dogs made their way to the APA.

Upon first look, Pup-pup isn’t what one would define as ‘beautiful.’ His splotchy face is bare in spots and his tongue consistently protrudes from the front of his mouth. His body has several large patches where hair no longer grows, including his tail, which looks long, scaly and rough.  Unfortunately, Pup-pup’s demeanor wasn’t much prettier when we initially met him. It was quickly apparent that during his life he was not very well socialized and was uncomfortable with new people and surroundings. He was fearful of anyone who attempted to touch him and met their attempts at affection with quick snips.

It is possible, and even probable, that many would have given up on Pup-pup, but through the course of working with tens of thousands of animals over the years, we have learned that sometimes the beauty within an animal surfaces over time. Every pet wants to be loved, but allowing oneself to be loved is sometimes hard. At the same time, understanding and patience can do amazing things.

Understanding that Pup-pup needed socialization, one of our team members took Pup-pup in as an office foster. Each day, she gently greeted Pup-pup, carefully removed him from his kennel and let him spend the day in her office. She didn’t push him to interact, but slowly he realized that he was safe and could trust her. As time passed, he began to move to the front of his kennel and greet her in the mornings. Eventually, he even approached her and waited for her to lift him into her lap, which soon after became his favorite place.

Today, Pup-pup was adopted. He is still shy and slow to warm up, but his heart has softened and it is clear that he, like everyone, simply wants to be loved. He isn’t perfect. Outwardly, he looks much the same, although he seems to be just a bit more relaxed (or at least we can tell he is trying). What is important is that he has a good heart, wants to accept the love of others and is willing to give those around him a chance. With a little wabi-sabi, we can see his beautiful heart and the dog he is destined to be. It seems he has also been able to see the beauty within humans. And that is a beautiful thing for everyone.

Odin’s Story

By: | June 7, 2018

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller

Odin was a stray. Young and homeless, he came to the APA through our transfer program. As a result of this network, which includes over 40 rescue partners and countless volunteers, the APA helps over 1,500 homeless pets every year get a second (and sometimes a third or fourth) chance at adoption. Each pet has their own story, but they all have one thing in common — each is looking for hope.

When Odin arrived, his sweet disposition made him beyond lovable. The APA staff showered him with attention and he quickly became a staff favorite. In addition to needing love, this sweet puppy also needed surgery for an existing injury to his eye. Thanks to the APA’s Heads to Tails Hope Fund, Odin got the medical care he needed. While his left eye ended up needing to be removed, he is now pain free and happy.

While recovering from surgery, Odin spent time in a foster home.  His foster family fell in love and Odin found his forever home! He’s adjusted well to seeing with only one eye. Despite a likely rough start to life, Odin and his family have many happy memories ahead!