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Foundation helps injured animals regain health


Volunteers keep ARRF going strong



jbowen@bnd.com

Article supplied by the Belleville News Democrat - January 17, 2005

The list is extensive and hardly exhaustive: Grover, the three-legged beagle mix, Mozart the Great Dane, Sterling the Persian cat, T.J. the border collie, Duchess the collie and Shadz the beagle.

These and hundreds of other injured dogs and cats, owe their lives to the Animal Rescue & Relief Foundation of Southwestern Illinois and its volunteers.

For 10 years, Animal Rescue & Relief Foundation, or ARRF, has been working hard to raise enough in donations to help pay for surgeries. Volunteers are the backbone of the organization, donating their time and their money to rehab injured animals in their homes and prepare them for adoption.

When the foundation was formed 10 years ago by Shelley Blumberg, Linda Waltman and Helga Solych, humane societies typically did not provide veterinary care for injured animals. It just wasn't in the budget and healthy, adoptable animals were top priority.

"Back then, an injured animal had no chance in a shelter or humane society, none at all. It would either lay there and die or be euthanized," said Linda Rayho, president of Animal Rescue & Relief Foundation. "When ARRF was started, our mission was to go in to these facilities and not allow that to happen. We'd go in to find these animals and take care of them."

Today, most shelters and humane societies provide medical care if it is needed, but the number of injured homeless animals is increasing, and the rescue foundation is still there to make sure those animals get well enough to find new homes.

In 2004, the group nearly doubled the number of animals it helped during previous years. Last year the organization provided aid to almost 250 animals, Rayho reported. The numbers of animals needing medical care have doubled, but the money from donations and fund raising has remained about the same. The organization operates on about $40,000 a year from donations and a couple of fund-raising auctions. The money is used to pay for medical bills for injured strays and for a spay-neuter program the organization sponsors.

"Things have changed a lot in the past 10 years," Rayho said. "People are no longer just driving by injured animals on the streets, they are picking them up and taking them to the vet clinics."

Most of the injured animals that come to rescue foundation have been hit by cars, Rayho said.

About 50 percent of the animals aided by the organization are found by good Samaritans and dropped off at veterinary hospitals. The other half come from area shelters and humane societies, Rayho said.

The organization does not have a facility and does not take in just stray animals, it only provides care for injured animals and it absolutely depends on volunteers and foster homes for animals.

"Right now we are really short on licensed foster homes," Rayho said. "We have a lot of people who would love to be foster homes, but they already have three or four pets of their own, and they are really limited on they number of animals they can have in a home. It's difficult to find homes that qualify, and when we do, we keep them for about two years before they max out because they fall in love with the foster animals and adopt them. It's been a real challenge to get the foster homes replaced."

For more information about Animal Rescue & Relief Foundation or to learn how to volunteer, call 624-1223.

 


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