Furever Friends Rescue (FFR) is a 501(c)(3) corporation established in 2012 to answer the question “What happens to my animals if something happens to me?” The rescue was designed to reduce the number of animals entering the public intake facilities in Maricopa County by helping people with life changing circumstances find new homes for their beloved pets. Individuals facing assisted living, nursing homes, hospice, or those dealing with the death of a loved one now have an option, to relinquish their pets to FFR directly where they will be put up for adoption. The entire process strives to minimize emotional and medical stress to the surrendered pets by avoiding the open intake facilities. When FFR has space, whether in their locations or with fosters, and they do not have animals coming in that are directly related to the mission, they go to the county facility where the take animals from the euthanasia list. Furever Friends currently has eight part time employees and a volunteer force of 65. They operate five locations housed within Petco and Petsmart retail stores and they are open 7 days a week.
Furever Friends offers a valuable service to the large population of retirees in Maricopa County. Oftentimes, the extended family members of this retired population are not living with them full time and so their pets have become their family. When a life changing event occurred for these individuals involving health or age, the solution was to send their pets to the public intake facilities where the pet had two options: to be successfully adopted or euthanized. As word of mouth has spread about Furever Friends Rescue they have been able to assist over 300 people and families who have had to surrender their pets. Furever Friends has striven for the past 3 years to offer an alternative for these owners and their pets, the goal of which is for the pet to be successfully adopted and the people to have some peace of mind about the situation.
Since its inception in 2012, Furever Friends Rescue has found permanent homes for over 900 animals. In 2014 alone, the Rescue managed to find permanent homes for 437. By the end of 2015, the aim is to place 500 dogs and cats an increase of 15%. To date, they have successfully found homes for 200 animals.
At this time they have 53 animals available for adoption (see special section) in their 4 locations (which is about the average): 14 dogs and 39 cats, another 16 kittens in foster (not their mission but many other rescue regularly bring them in), and a waiting list of 15 mission related cats.
“Over the years we have discovered that there really is someone for everyone and we will keep an animals until i is adopted”, says Nancy Babos, President of Furever Friends Rescue. “We have had dogs as long as a year and we have a couple of cats who have become office fixtures. We don’t keep the animals caged indefinitely, we have fosters willing to offer respite care for a dog or cat who has been here too long. And then of course there are staff and volunteers who open their homes permanently to some of these guys. We are also a guaranteed adoption partner which means that if for any reason an adoption doesn’t work out or a pet needs to be returned we take them back. It may take us a little while if we are full but we take them back and find them a new home.”
Furever Friends will intake approximately 3 to 1 cats to dogs and their adoption numbers are about the same. The reason relates more to space than anything else, they have more spaces for cats than dogs. Says Babos, “Ideally, we’d like a facility of our own so that we can take in more animals. To have a waiting list regularly is a double-edged sword, we are happy to have so many folks in need find us, but it is difficult when we can’t take in pets due to space issues.”
The rescue is always in need of financial assistance and volunteers/fosters willing to help. One of the things they are currently struggling with is the cost for veterinary care. Many of the individuals surrendering their pets are on fixed incomes and not always able to afford vaccines, spay/neuter surgeries and testing. An emergency veterinary fund would help with those situations. “We have been so fortunate in our relationship with Petco”, said Babos, “they have provided us with the adoption center at Stapley and Baseline and through a Petco Foundation grant our animals are fed.” All food donations made to Furever Friends go to Chuck Waggin’ which helps individuals incapable of paying for food for their pets with deliveries of free food.
Here are just a couple of those 900 success stories and include Smokey, Paddy and Carl.
Smokey came to Furever Friends from an assisted living facility specializing in memory care. As his owner’s memory failed she forgot that he was her pet and began chasing him out of her room and throwing things at him. Concerned for his safety, the staff contacted FFR when they found him locked in a room. They took Smokey changed his name to Francis (it seemed that every grey cat they had was named Smokey) and found him a new home. They have remained in contact with both the assisted living facility and Francis’ new family, he is very happy.
Paddy’s owner passed away three years ago and he found himself at the Humane Society of Central Arizona. When the folks there learned of the FFR mission they called to see if they’d be interested in taking him. He’s an older guy with diabetes, of course they were interested. He spent the better part of that first year with them at the rescue or in foster. Two Thanksgiving’s ago he was brought home for a little respite care. He never left…he belongs to Nancy now.
Carl’s owner took his own life leaving him without a home. A neighbor called Furever Friends and they were able to take him right away. A younger guy, Carl had a few admirers among the volunteers and took a couple of hiking trips during his stay with them. This easy going boy found a wonderful home with a couple who wanted a companion and a friend.
For more information about Furever Friends Rescue, contact them at:
1015 East Baseline Road
Gilbert, AZ 85233