ARF looking to take the bite out of shelter life | AspenTimes.com
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ARF looking to take the bite out of shelter life

Naomi Havlen

Wanted: Foster pet parents.

A couple who recently moved to the valley have formed the Animal Rescue Foundation – aka ARF – to relieve the pressure on local animal shelters.

Their goal is to move pets from local animal shelters into foster homes until a permanent home can be found.

“We think there’s a good network of shelters throughout the Roaring Fork Valley,” said David Pietch, co-founder of ARF. But, he added, it’s obvious that a number of the shelters are short-handed.

Pietch and his wife, Peggy Corcillo, were active with animal shelters on the East Coast before they moved to the valley, walking dogs or taking animals to the vet. Now they hope a network of foster homes for animals can free up space for other pets that need to be sheltered.

“We don’t want to compete against different shelters as far as getting any funding [to create a new shelter], but we would like to help any shelter out there that needs help. So we came up with an idea of creating a network of foster homes,” Pietch said.

The pair currently live in Missouri Heights with two dogs and two cats of their own, and one foster dog and one foster cat.

Their canine guest is Gorbie, a beagle mix that had been in a kennel for three years. Pietch said he’s a great dog, just a little timid because he was abused.

Foster families can help animals socialize outside of a shelter, and foster pets can be therapeutic for their temporary owners, Corcillo said. Foster pets also give the aspiring pet owner a chance to get a feel for the responsibility of owning a pet.

“If someone has a pet that passed away, maybe they’re ready to foster a pet if they’re not ready to adopt one,” she said. “Or people with ranches and plenty of room might be willing to foster a pet. Even someone who travels too much to have a pet full time can foster a pet.”

But there’s more to ARF than the foster family network. ARF will also provide marketing service to help local animal shelters that don’t have big budgets for advertising the pets that need to be adopted.

ARF hopes to market the animals “as aggressively as possible,” Corcillo said.

Through flyers posted in places where families and pet lovers frequent, and perhaps this summer at the Aspen Farmer’s Market, ARF hopes to get a strong message out about the abundance of pets available for adoption.

And RJ Paddywacks, a pet supply store in El Jebel, is considering holding a “Pet Of The Week” night for ARF, with one lucky potential pet featured to the community.

“A lot of people don’t realize that eight to 10 million cats and dogs enter shelters in the country each year, and four to five million of those are put down,” Corcillo said. “Three to five million are adopted, and 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred.”

In the Roaring Fork Valley, most shelters do not euthanize dogs and cats that are not adopted, but Pietch said there are still concerns of overcrowding, with unhappy, unadopted animals filling the shelters.

“Looking at it from a business aspect where dogs are inventory, we need to turn that inventory around to create more room for other dogs,” he said. “Gorbie was in the shelter for three years, maybe because nobody really knew about him. No one put posters out or marketed this dog.”

Finally, ARF is interested in educating the community about spaying and neutering.

ARF is waiting for its nonprofit status to be finalized, but in the meantime Pietch and Corcillo are looking for volunteers to walk dogs, socialize cats, take animals to the vet or open their homes to foster pets. For more information, call 963-4562.


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