Story by Zakia Williams
Photos and podcast by Mark Newton
VCU Multimedia Journalism Masters Program
RICHMOND, Va. — Jonas and his siblings were found abandoned by the Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation, which tried to find them a loving home. His siblings have since found homes. Three months later, however, Jonas the yellow Labrador and hound mix, is the last one left.
But Jonas was far from being alone at the AARF Dog Adoption Stand held at the PetSmart on Libbie and Broad Street today. He was one of nearly twenty dogs present hoping to have a happy home. Debbie Allan, Vice President of AARF, said it’s her goal to make sure the dogs have one soon.
“I’ve made it my total mission to help these dogs,” Allan said. “If you see the emails that we get everyday from pounds of dogs going down the next day it would break your heart.”
Listen: Volunteer Shannon Wilkins on working with AARF (Download)
Allan and a group of AARF volunteers worked diligently every Saturday to present the dogs to those looking for an additional family member. During the event which lasts from 11 p.m. to 2 p.m., two of dogs were fortunate to be adopted within the first hour. Allan said their goal for the day was to adopt ten dogs. The organization currently has one hundred dogs in their care.
Every dog had a description on their cage with their birthday, classification, sex and size. The dogs were divided between the older dogs and puppies, but Allan said people seem to glance over the older dogs.
“The ones that are the hardest are the bigger dogs. I wish people
would adopt older dogs. They need it more than the puppies do because
everybody wants a puppy.”
AARF only adopts puppies in Richmond and the surrounding community because of spay and neuter certificates needed. Although the adoption stand is held today, Kellie Barrow, who volunteers said there is a process for people to go through before the dogs are released.
“First they fill out an application, then we have one of the screeners to see if the dog is a good fit for that person, and then they do a home visit to verify all the information on the application,” Barrow said. “If it’s approved they pay a hundred and fifty dollars adoption fee.
Barrow uses her home as a foster care for two AARF dogs since the organization does not have kennels. She said she knows first hand about the importance of AARF from her own experience.
“We got involved with AARF when we found a dog, a pit bull. She was pregnant and she had fourteen puppies,” Barrow said. “And we contacted AARF and they helped us adopt out the puppies to find the right home and that’s how I got started.”
For many who adopt the dogs, they do so for companionship. For 16 year-old Shannon Wilkins, she adopted a dog a few weeks ago to carry out her former dog of 15 years legacy.
“We were looking for a dog that was pretty much like our old dog because he died of heart warms,” Wilkins said. “And we’ve been looking for two years for a dog and the one we found was the one we wanted.”
Since then Wilkins has joined the AARF team.
“I saw how much the dogs needed help and how many volunteers were actually needed,” Barrow said. “It’s hard to get people to volunteer.”
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