Sammy, a yellow Labrador mixed-breed dog, sat in his kennel last week staring at the floor with a doleful expression. His demeanor changed markedly as he was singled out for special attention and given toys and treats in an effort to get his photo taken.
The photography program is one way Georjette Thomas, founder of the area’s newest nonprofit, hopes to get Sammy, a resident of Summit County Animal Control, adopted into a new home.
Thomas, one of the area’s most ardent animal advocates with 15 years experience in animal rescue, left her post with an organization she helped build in an attempt to find and fund a broader base to support all the area’s animal welfare groups.
“ ‘Pay It Forward for Pets’ improves the lives of people and pets,” said Thomas last week of the nonprofit she founded after cutting ties with One of a Kind Pet Rescue, where she served as director of advancement for the past seven years.
Saturday, Thomas and photographer Olivia Mandala, 21, a Kent State University student, photographed 20 of the dogs at S.C.A.C. to get their stories and photos out to the public where they will be seen by potential adopters.
“Photography programs have proven to increase adoptions by 30 percent immediately,” Thomas said.
The photos will be posted to pet adoption websites within 24 hours, she said, including the PIFFP Website, the nonprofit’s Facebook page and on Petfinder.
“As they become available, they will be profiled to the public and go forward onto radio spots,” Thomas said.
Thomas profiles pets each week on Rubber City Radio’s WQMX (94.9-FM) and WAKR (1590-AM). Additionally, she does weekly television spots with featured animals on cable station WCTV in the Wadsworth, Brunswick area and all Cox Cable networks in Cuyahoga County.
The photography program is being funded by a private donor who believes in PIFFP’s mission, she said.
Photos aside, Thomas, a diminutive dynamo, is currently writing grant requests for humanitarian and rescued pet programs.
She kicked off the volunteer organization purposely with S.C.A.C. as her main focus, she said.
“After seeing the progress Summit County Animal Control has made in recent years, I’ve grown more and more interested in helping them,” she said.
The county processes more than 4,500 orphaned pets each year. The county facility and the Humane Society of Greater Akron are the only agencies that have no control over the animals that come through their doors. Rescue groups may pick and choose the pets they take to rehome, said Thomas.
One of a Kind executive director Terri Nass Reeder said the organization is happy Thomas has found a place where she can continue to help homeless pets.
“We are glad she is continuing to be an advocate for animals. There are never enough voices on behalf of animals,” Nass Reeder said.
Propelled by a hugely successful Casino Night fundraiser she orchestrated and ran for One of a Kind in August, Thomas said she believes in the goodness of people who want to help people and their pets.
“Most small animal rescue groups are doing exemplary work, but they lack a professional staff to advance their mission and expand their efforts to get their rescued animals into loving homes,” she said.
PIFFP has five other community programs: Senior Pets for Senior Citizens; No Buddy Left Behind to provide medical attention for dogs of U.S. troops and to help fund the veterinary care to bring the dogs home; Critical Care Veterinary Fund for people unable to pay vet bills for a pet; Humane Education to teach students proper treatment of pets; Behavioral Assessment and Training to get pets ready to be adopted, as well as the shelter pet photography program.
PIFFP is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The programs are administrated by a team of local business people with finance backgrounds and monitored by a certified public accountant. Everyone involved is donating their time, Thomas said.
“Because nonprofit organizations have a “founder” and not an owner, we are mindful we are owned by the community and funded by donors. Accountability and transparency is paramount to our long-term success,” said Thomas.
Other animals in the news:
Paws for the Cause Walk/5K run and 1-Mile Fun Run — Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is sponsoring the event at 9 a.m. Oct. 26 at the Square in Medina to raise funds to prevent animal cruelty, abuse and neglect. Registration on race day is from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. Registration can also be made online at www.signmeup.com/94861. Entry fees run from $20 for adults participants to $5 for pets that are registered the day of the event. Early registrant humans will receive a T-shirt. Pets will be given a bandanna. All dogs must be on a 6-foot (or shorter), nonretractable leash at all times.
Dance Under the Stars — Kitten Krazy and De Queens of De Nile dance troop will hold a fundraiser at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Valley Woods Park Pavilion A., 13005 Schreiber Road, Valley View. Tickets are $15 per person in advance; $16 at the event. Light refreshments are included, but feel free to bring snacks. Kitten Krazy will have adoptable cats and kittens available at the event. Contact Helen Morrison at Helen_Morrison@yahoo.com for more information, or visit danceunderthestars.eventbrite.com to order tickets. All proceeds will be donated to Kitten Krazy.
Boo at the Zoo — The Akron Zoo’s annual not-so-very-scary Halloween event begins at 5:30-8 p.m. today and Sunday and will run Oct. 18-20 and 25-27. The event includes 12 themed treat stations at the zoo which is dressed up in its finest Halloween decor. Tickets, $10 for trick or treaters and $6 for observers, are limited for each night so guests are encouraged to buy their tickets in advance. Presale tickets, discounted $1 are on sale at the zoo and all Acme Fersh Markets. The event also includes a pizza buffet and carousel and train rides. For more information, call 330-375-2550 or visit www.akronzoo.org.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to email@example.com.