Today we have with us Chops from Furkids, Georgia’s largest no-kill animal shelter. With over 400 volunteers, a 5,000 square foot cage-free facility for cats, a shelter for dogs, and over 600 animals cared for daily, including FIV+ cats, Furkids is a major force in the southeast when it comes to animal rescue. So far, they have saved over 8,000 animals from death through their two facilities, thirteen Petco and Petsmart adoption centers, and their network of foster homes. Let’s find out more about their work, their message about FIV+ kitties, and the advice they have to give to smaller shelters looking to grow.
Welcome, Chops! Thank you for being here with me today.
Hi, Crepes! Thank you for having me.
Tell me, how did Furkids begin?
About 11 years ago, Samantha Shelton found a mom cat and kittens in her backyard. She couldn’t find a no-kill shelter to take them in, so she started her own shelter, Furkids! We began as a foster home network and eventually raised the money to lease a building for our cat shelter. In 2011, we acquired Small Dog Rescue and Humane. Now we have two shelters!
What is unique about Furkids?
Furkids cares for the largest number of animals on a daily basis than any other local shelter. They also care a lot about special needs animals, including me. I am FIV+ positive and they gave me the important job of shelter ambassador!
And what does the job of shelter ambassador entail?
I get to monitor the shelter hallways and make sure everyone feels welcome and all the cats stay in line. I love my job!
That’s very socially responsible of you to make your FIV status known. It’s a topic that I’d like to make my readers more aware of. I hear that Furkids has an FIV+ house. Tell me more.
Five years ago we made the decision to rent a house where our large number of FIV+ cats could live comfortably and could act as a home-base to educating people about FIV. Furkids really loves us FIV+ guys and wants to make sure that we have all of the opportunities we can to live and thrive. Sadly, so many people are confused about FIV and the majority of us are put down once our humans are told we have tested positive for FIV. We can and will live long healthy lives just like cats without FIV. We have a weakened immune system but that is all. If we get sick, take us to the vet.
And can you live in a household with FIV negative cats?
We can live with negative cats in the same household, as long as we all get along. You see, FIV is transmitted through a vicious bite wound. I live with a few other shelter ambassadors at Furkids and my girlfriend, Kelly, and I are the very best of buds. We deserve to live. Please help my kind and spread the word to people that they shouldn’t be afraid of this virus. It is tragic how many of us are killed because of fear and ignorance.
I’m doing my best to make people realize that FIV is not a death sentence. On a more canine-centric note, I read that Furkids also does some work with adoptable dogs. Tell me about the specifics.
We love our canine friends at Furkids, too! We have a wonderful dog shelter in Alpharetta, GA that houses over 40 dogs. Another 40 or so are in foster homes. We focus primarily on the small dog breeds, having acquired Small Dog Rescue and Humane two years ago, but we love the larger breeds, too!
And these dogs are rescued by Furkids?
Most of our dogs are pulled from kill shelters on their last day. It always feels so good to be able to go into these shelters and save these deserving dogs.
I myself know the relief of a last-minute save. Furkids has many programs, including low-cost spay and neuter for the community, a foster network, outreach to the community and students. What are you most proud of?
We have so much to be proud of! I would say my humans are most excited about the pet therapy programs we offer and the broad volunteer opportunities at Furkids. Every day a different group of loving humans come to the shelter to pet me and brush me and love me. I have friends of all ages, friends in wheelchairs, friends with disabilities and I also have friends from colleges that travel across the country to see me during their spring and winter breaks. We are home to so many student volunteers, since we are the only shelter in the state that allows children of all ages to volunteer. I love the chance to show children love and help them learn about proper pet care and the importance of spaying and neutering their pets.
Many smaller facilities might look to Furkids for advice. What has been the most successful tactic for Furkids in raising funds for their current facility?
We were recently named Georgia’s top non-profit fundraiser on our state’s Day of Giving last December. We were successful because we show people where their money is going. By using before and after photos of recently rescued animals, people can see directly how their donations are being used – to save lives!
What about goal setting?
We also set goals and communicate them to our supporters. My humans tell me to always be specific about our needs.
Any further advice, such as what to do with a couch I’ve scratched beyond repair?
We also recommend starting a thrift store! Ours started as a yard sale in Samantha’s yard and has grown into a full-time thrift store providing very valuable revenue for our shelters and programs.
Using your tactic to be specific, tell us how we the public can help Furkids.
Furkids is always in need of volunteers, adopters and donors. We also need donations and shoppers for our thrift store. Please visit our website at www.furkids.org and find a way to get involved.
Thank you so much for being with us today, Chops! It has been a pleasure meeting you.
Thank you for having me, Crepes! I really appreciate how you are helping our fellow feline and canine friends! So many of us need support and we are glad you are doing what you can to bring about awareness of our needs. Keep up the great work, Crepes! Meow and purr!
There is it, my interview with Furkids! Please do note again that FIV is not a death sentence! FIV cats deserve love and homes! And, taking Furkids’ advice on being specific, I’d like to ask you all to help me reach my goal of 250 Facebook followers and 150 Twitter followers by the end of April. Please share my pages with your friends and share my articles with those you think might be interested. So, can we do it? Thank you for your support!