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Mutterings

A round-up of fun, inspiring news tidbits from the animal welfare world.

From Animal Sheltering magazine January/February 2015

Bed: aisle A1. Dog: out front. IKEA’s Tempe store is partnering with the Arizona Humane Society to encourage customers to take home a four-legged friend along with their furniture.IKEA store reps placed colorful cutouts of adoptable cats and dogs throughout their Tempe, Ariz., store in advance of a visit from the Waggin’ Wheels mobile adoption unit.Red Dog Project volunteer Katherine Marotti introduces potential adopters to Lilly, one of the dogs available at the Natural Pet Outlet’s first shelter pet promotion.Annie Blumenfeld hugs Teddy, the former shelter dog who inspired her to create Wags 4 Hope.Sales of her whimsical pet portraits have helped fund Annie’s efforts to raise awareness of heartworm prevention.

No Assembly Required

Now you can truly find everything for your home—including a furry friend to share your space—at the IKEA in Tempe, Ariz.

Following a promotion originally run in IKEA’s Singapore store, the Tempe location began partnering with the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) last June to help find homes for shelter pets. It was perfect timing, as AHS was looking for a location to roll out its new Waggin’ Wheels mobile adoption unit.

For several weeks before the first adoption event, shoppers who strolled through the store’s showrooms were greeted with cardboard cutouts of AHS shelter pets begging at stylish dinner tables and lounging on impossible-to-pronounce sofas. The cutouts also included tags with QR codes customers could scan for more information about the animals and the upcoming event.

“We thought it was a cool way to communicate what a pet could look like in your home,” says Becky Blaine, marketing director for the store. “Our customers love it.”All of the animals promoted via the in-store displays were adopted before the kickoff event, and as of November, the store was hosting two adoption events per month. The mobile unit brings about six to 10 animals along with an adoption counselor, so people are able to take their new family members home that day. “There’s always a line waiting outside for the Waggin’ Wheels to show up,” says Blaine, who’s heard from other IKEA stores interested in replicating the partnership—and don’t worry! Collaborations like these are often easier to assemble than some of the store’s furniture.

That Doggie in the Window

For years, Ray Arabia dreamed of converting the pet stores he co-owns from selling commercially bred puppies to offering rescue pets for adoption. Now, with help from the HSUS Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, that fantasy is becoming reality.

John Moyer, outreach coordinator for the campaign, first contacted Arabia through a random call to find out if Pets Plus Natural, a chain of 10 stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, would be interested in making the switch to shelter pets. Arabia and his partners had long considered such a change, but were afraid their business would tank as a result. But with The HSUS on board to provide guidance and support in developing relationships with local shelters and rescues that could supply an assortment of adoptable animals, they decided to take the plunge.

Since that initial call in October 2013, the chain has converted four locations entirely to adoptable pets, even providing full kennel facilities so the animals actually live in the store, which helps free up space at participating shelters and rescue groups.

The HSUS also helped coordinate an adoption event at Arabia’s Connecticut pet supply store, the Natural Pet Outlet. When Arabia and company opened the store, they had decided not to offer animals, only supplies. “My heart just wasn’t in selling puppies,” Arabia explains, but he was delighted with the idea of using the store as a base for adoption events.

Organized in conjunction with the Red Dog Project (a collaboration between the Connecticut Department of Correction, private foundations, businesses and interested individuals through which shelter pets live with inmates to learn basic socialization skills) and with help from Annie Hornish, HSUS Connecticut state director, the Oct. 25 inaugural promotion enjoyed a nice show of support, says Arabia, with shoppers happy to see the store encouraging animal adoption.

Pet stores switching to adoptions is an idea whose time has finally come, Arabia says. “As a country, I feel our attitudes are starting to change.” He and his partners are happy to change their practices right along with them.

For more on pet store conversions, see New Route to Adoption.

Young Pet-caso Paints for a Cause

One animal can change the course of your life. For young Annie Blumenfeld, that animal is Teddy. After a long search for just the right “big, fluffy” dog to adopt, Annie located Teddy at Houston Shaggy Dog Rescue and arranged for him to come to her home in Connecticut, where it was love at first bark.

During his vet screening in Houston, Teddy tested positive for heartworm disease. As she learned more about the treatment regimen he endured, Annie’s sympathy for pets with heartworm started to overflow.

Though Teddy made a full recovery, Annie couldn’t get past what she’d learned—that shelter animals with heartworm may have a greater chance of being euthanized.

So in 2012, the then-14-year-old founded Wags 4 Hope, an organization that raises awareness about heartworm prevention and money to help shelters pay for treatment.At the same time, Annie entered a whimsical painting of a shaggy dog in a competition, and her work earned a lot of attention. An idea was born: She decided to trade on her artistic talents to raise funds. To date, she’s painted and sold more than 250 portraits of dogs and commissioned pieces of people’s pets.

She’s also solicited donated products from KONG, 1800PetMeds, Harry Barker and other companies. BarkBox—a popular online supplier of doggie care packages—made Wags 4 Hope one of its nonprofit partners.

In just over two years, the entrepreneurial teen has managed to raise more than $30,000 in cash and donations for animal shelters. Much of this has gone to Connecticut shelters, but Annie lets donors select other shelters around the U.S. they’d like to help.

She has also circulated a heartworm prevention flier she made in all 50 states and overseas. Her work has been featured in Cesar’s Way and Dog Fancymagazines.

And now she’s taking her message all the way to the statehouse. Annie and state Rep. Tony Hwang are promoting pet care guidelines on the state’s website, and she’s working with the state’s Department of Agriculture to have a heartworm awareness reminder placed on Connecticut dog license tags.

Now that’s showing some heart!

About the Author

Animal Sheltering is for everyone who cares about the animals in their community—from shelter directors and animal care and control officers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as activists, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians and more.