ARF barking for support in the valley | AspenTimes.com

ARF barking for support in the valley

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

CARBONDALE ” A grassroots effort to save one abandoned pet at a time has gained momentum over the years but the small, Carbondale-based nonprofit Animal Rescue Foundation of Colorado (ARF) can hardly keep up.

“This week alone I got over 50 e-mails about animals who are in perilous situations,” said Peggy Corcillo, president of ARF. “It’s sad and it’s gotten worse lately and I think that is because of the housing crisis in this country.”

ARF is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2003 that has saved the lives of 557 abandoned pets.

Corcillo said when she moved to the valley 10 years ago, she volunteered to exercise abandoned dogs who were being boarded at Alpine Meadows Kennel. But she soon realized that there was no organized effort to find homes for the animals.

“No one knew officially they were there,” Corcillo said.

Through a network of volunteers and supporters, and by collaborating with other rescue organizations to extend its reach and expand its capacity, ARF provides medical care, training, rehabilitation, shelter and financial support while actively working to place the pets in permanent homes.

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The organization has grown in terms of taking in more animals as well as fundraising, support and public exposure.

The first annual Double Dog/Stubbies Golf Tournament, held on Friday at Ironbridge in Glenwood Springs, raised more than $1,000 for ARF, which split the day’s proceeds with the Little Red Schoolhouse in Snowmass Village.

According to ARF’s 2007 tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the organization brought in $56,479 in revenue, which includes grants, private donations and other fundraising efforts.

That same year, ARF spent $54,419 in expenses, including $26,920 for boarding at the Alpine Meadows Kennel; $14,372 for medical services for the animals and $6,772 in advertising to promote their adoption.

Corcillo estimates that each animal costs about $300 for boarding and medical expenses.

ARF’s revenues and expenses grew about $9,000 from 2006 to 2007, according to IRS documents.

The organization relies on volunteers, which average at about 30 individuals over the year. However, ARF was recently able to hire two part-time employees who collectively work 20 hours a week.

“We’ve been creative with our money because we’ve had to,” Corcillo said. “We always need more volunteers and donations.”

Part of ARF’s success and growth has been getting exposure at local events like the Canine Uphill, Dog Days at Bonedale, Wintersköl and Race for the Cure, to name a few.

Corcillo said ARF has had great success with its “Adoption Days,” which occur the first Saturday of the month in front of Petco in Glenwood Springs. Soon, ARF will display its homeless pets in front of Carbondale’s RJ Paddywacks, the original location for ARF’s public adoptions.

“We get those dogs out in the public as much as we can,” Corcillo said.

The animals also are listed in the pet personals ” petfinder.com and other related websites, as well as listed in local newspapers.

The biggest challenge ARF faces is space. Because the organization isn’t a shelter, finding enough capacity to accommodate the animals, which come from all over the region and neighboring states, is difficult, Corcillo said.

The organization is in the early stages of launching a capital campaign to raise money to build a shelter. Corcillo said at least $1 million will be needed.

Once ARF rescues an animal, volunteers assess them, give them appropriate medical treatment, train them if necessary and then try to find the right person to match them up with. That could be through adoptions or fostering the pets until a permanent home is found.

“No. 1, we need space and capacity and we need a shelter midvalley,” Corcillo said, adding ARF takes in animals from other operations when it can. “There are more animals losing their lives because of a lack of space.”

ARF’s capacity level at Alpine Meadows Kennel is eight dogs and there’s a current waiting list of eight, Corcillo said, adding the average stay is one to two months but some take longer to find homes.

Currently, ARF has eight dogs and six cats, with a few more on their way to the valley. Two animals are in foster care, Corcillo said.

For more information, log on to http://www.arf-colorado.com

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