Changing the pet shelter paradigm

Changing Lives by Saving Lives

By Rob Reichstein


Many think of pet rescues and shelters as a depository for unwanted pets. Those who adopt understand that quality rescues and shelters are conduits connecting a pet in need of a home with a loving home.

Typically, cats and dogs in the care of even the best shelters are confined to small spaces and human contact is limited to the available time of the shelters volunteers. But Foothills Animal Rescue is working to change that paradigm.

Foothills Animal Rescue (FHR) was endowed by the family of Brynne Smith. Brynne was a lifelong pet lover who lived by the credo 831. Brynne’s family donated the funds to build the Scottsdale campus to keep Brynne’s dream alive. As you enter the facility you see the numbers 831. It means: 8 letters, 3 words, 1 meaning- I Love you.

Victoria Cowper, CAWA, Executive Director and Melissa Gable, Pets & People PR Manager are the stewards of Brynne’s passion and her parent’s vision for Foothills Animal Rescue. Not only are the pets treated to more spacious confines than older rescues. They enjoy more play time and human interaction. It is about to get better for them. Victoria and Melissa are giving purpose to shelter pets with road trips to senior assisted care facilities where they will get to be therapy pets.

Many articles and studies have pointed to the therapeutic benefits of pet ownership. Several link the reduction of blood pressure, anxiety, stress, and obesity to people who actively care for pets. The benefits of pet interaction with residents is known to operators of senior assisted living facilities. However, few assisted care facilities have programs to bring in pets for visits as the facilities require qualified pet handlers as well as dogs and cats vetted for such interaction. FootHills Animal Rescue meets or exceeds all requirements.

One thought in my mind. If a shelter pet can list senior pet therapy on their resume, would it make the pet more desirable to adopt?

If you are interested in volunteering, adopting, donating, or surrendering a pet to Foothills Animal Rescue check out their website at , call 480–488–9890 or stop by PetSmart in the Desert Ridge MarketPlace most Friday afternoons between noon and 3:00 p.m.