Meet Renee Gardner, shelter manager for the Animal Welfare Society of New Milford, Connecticut. Renee was kind enough to take time out of her day to answer a few questions we had about the AWS. And when we say "take time out of her day" we mean her busy day. The AWS cares for an average of seventy pets at any given time. That's seventy pets who were once abandoned, unwanted, abused, neglected, slated to be killed, or otherwise in need of services. And that's just in the New Milford, Brookfield, Bridgewater, Roxbury, and Washington areas of Connecticut.
You can meet Renee -- and other dedicated members of the AWS-NM staff -- in person this Saturday, September 27th, at their 10th annual Dog Days of Summer event (click the link for more info). Paul's Custom Pet Food will be there, along with dozens of other vendors, volunteers, and fellow pet lovers. Come on by and say hello to Renee and the other AWS staff and pets. In the meantime, here's a little insight into the ultra-important work they do.
PCPF: What is the AWS of New Milford? What services does it provide?
RG: We are a non-destroy adoption facility. We shelter dogs and cats, provide medical care, and spay, neuter, and place them in permanent homes. We have a spay/neuter assistance program, a food bank, lost pet assistance, and a team of volunteers who reach out to help our pets through community events and education programs.
PCPF: Do you service all pets?
RG: The shelter houses dogs and cats. We will help refer people to rescues for other species.
PCPF: How do pets come to you?
RG: The dogs come to us from regional animal control facilities and private homes. When space permits, we accept dogs from high kill shelters in the south. The cats are strays coming from people finding them, animal control facilities, and -- when space permits -- from private homes.
PCPF: What is your relationship, if any, to other organizations such as the SPCA?
RG: AWS is a private, non-profit shelter serving the towns of Washington, Brookfield, Roxbury, Bridgewater, and New Milford. We are not affiliated with any other shelters or agencies and receive no town, state, or federal funding.
PCPF: What does it mean to be a "non-destroy" or "no-kill" agency?
RG: All animals stay with us until they are adopted. We average 70 animals in the shelter at any given time.
PCPF: What are some of the ways you attract adopters or sponsors?
RG: We use social media, radio, petfinder.com, newspapers and -- most important -- word of mouth.
PCPF: What do you see as the AWS's greatest immediate and long-term needs?
RG: Our immediate needs are financing, food, and supplies to run our day-to-day operations. We need volunteers to help with our fundraising, community outreach, and special projects.
PCPF: Tell us a little about Saturday's Dog Days event. Is there a fee to attend? How many folks does it typically draw? Will some of the animals from the AWS be there? Can people adopt at the event?
RG: The 10th annual Dog Days is a fun day for families and dogs. The entrance fee is $5.00 for a family or $3.00 per person. We have between 150 to 200 people attend. We encourage you to bring your well-behaved dog for a fun-filled day of agility, lure coursing, Frisbee, games, and demonstrations. The shelter dogs will be walking with volunteers and taking part in the fun, but will not be available for adoption that day.
PCPF: Is there anything you'd like to add that I haven't asked?
RG: We'd like to encourage people to look local when donating to a shelter or animal welfare organization or when adopting a pet.