Episode 42 – Brigitte Thompson

42 Brigitte Thompson_FB 42 Brigitte Thompson_FB VT Dog Rescue has been around for just 3 short years and is targeted to triple the amount of dogs saved this year! You’ll learn how they make the adoption process personalized for each adopting family. Brigitte shares an inspirational adoption story for a fire-fighter who was at Ground Zero and how the local community came together to share the special moment. Brigitte and Chris talk about the problems of transportation and ideas on how to move dogs from the south to the north. There are many ways to volunteer, you don’t have to be onsite to help! https://www.vtdogrescue.com/ Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where a goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show. After several years of volunteering at other local organizations and becoming increasingly uncomfortable with House of Organizations were operating, Bridget and her husband, Keith, started Vermont Dog Rescue in 2015. They wanted to create a different environment for the applicants as well as the dogs. During the first time, months were able to rescue 53 dogs in 2017 they more than doubled that rescuing 133 dogs. Bridget projects that this year they’ll be able to save around 260 dogs. Today she’ll share with us what makes them different from other organizations in their process and their involvement of their local community and how transportation is involved. Hey, project. Thanks for coming on today. Hi, Chris. Thanks for inviting me. I’m excited to be here. Well, thanks. So tell us a little bit about you and kind of your story And how you got into animal rescue. Oh, yeah. I was, um, adopted, I guess, Um, pure bred dogs. I had no idea that there was a problem in the South, I guess were kind of sheltered appearing for a moment. Um, when I realized there was a problem, I didn’t know the extent of it. So we decided as a family to volunteer for some local rescues here in from Aunt, and I was shocked. I was very, very shocked at the level of, um, the difference between how a dog is part of a family in Vermont, in the Northeast in general and not so much a family member in the south. Um, And so we started to learn more about that whole side of like, um, And as things went along, we saw some things with the rescue that we were volunteering with that we thought we could improve upon. So we decided to start our own rescue. And that was in the march of 2015. We got started while, so yeah, like a lot other people. You kind of almost stumbled into it. And then you figured out that, Hey, look, there’s a way that this needs to be done. So tell us, tell us a little bit more about what does Vermont Dog Rescue do? We will work with volunteers who were in the right on freedom boots on the ground, in the shelters who see the dogs come in and they will call us and say, You know, we’ve got this dog that just came in. It looks like you’re kind of dog, you know, in that it’s, um, a family friendly dog that looks like my kind of dog because it is a family friendly dog. We usually do not help, or we can’t help the dogs that are aggressive, so we aren’t set up to do that yet. I’m so Anyway, they will call us and tell us about a dog that came in. Give us what they know about the dog story, and we say, 99% of the time. Yes, please. We were happy to help that dog, And then the dog starts a process down in the south of going into a local faster home, and then vetting will happen so the dog will be checked for her arm disease if he’s over six months. Mother spaying and Neutering. If they’re over six months, um, and their vaccines are given to them the basic vaccines. And then I get to work on transport and transports a big part of this because that’s how the dogs get to us. And there’s many different routes. Um, you could do volunteers. You could do volunteer should organizations like Joubert that we’ve worked for through before and you can pay drivers to do the trip, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s a lot of logistics for where drivers will go to pick up the dogs, how far north they’ll come with the dogs. So I work on that next and then, UM, once everything said and done, the dog would come to us and Vermont, and we would have the dog go into a foster home, Um, usually 2 to 3 weeks, sometimes 30 days, depending on where they came from. We call it a quarantine, but it’s not. Ah, it’s not Ah, sterilized site in any sort. It just means that they’re out of the shelter. There in a home, and they’re starting to unwind from whatever atrocities they had endured before they came to us. So we give him that time, and then we match them up with an adopter who’s looking for you specifically that kind of dog. We try to get to know our adopters, and I think a lot of rescue skip over that part there. Just like, Okay, you know, you want a dog here to dog. See later. We spend a lot of time working with the adopters, and it takes, um, patients a lot of patients to work through, um, figuring out what they really want. You know, Are they somebody who likes d’oh job all the time? Well, then they don’t want a couch potato. You know that they need a dog that’s gonna be active with, um um and you know the flip side, you know, if they say, oh, when my dream is to start jogging. But I you know, I’ve never walked more than a mile. Well, let’s let’s lean toward these kind of lower key docks that don’t need the exercise three times a day. So I think that’s what sets us apart. That’s what we do a little bit different, and we focus on that connection with the adopter. Um, and we’re thankful for our doctors. I mean, without them, we couldn’t rescue the Pops. Mmm. Yeah. I mean, and I’m excited to hear that you put so much time and attention into finding the right match. I mean, I think that’s a really good point, because a lot of times that this is not just a transaction, right? This is a living, breathing animal that a sentient being that you want to match up to become part of the family, and you want him to fit into the family. I mean, I think we all have had that bonding experience with a particular animal. Yes, and it’s so important to find that match that’s gonna work. Otherwise, it’s like, you know, swimming upstream for their whole life. And you want the dog to be happy. You have the adopters to be happy, you know. You want it to be a good fit for everybody. So the dog stays with the family. Yeah. Yeah. Now, I know you started back in 2015 with seams probably so long ago. I mean, how have things evolved for you. I mean, in terms of the numbers and in terms of how you do this grown and leaps and bounds as the rescue became known locally, we had more people who volunteered to help. And for every foster home we have, that means we can save another life. So the numbers in terms of what we have been able to save the dogs we have been able to save have almost doubled in these three years. Um, so the growth is this astronomical when you look at the numbers of dogs that we started helping in that first year too, you know what we look at today? We’re just through April 30th we rescued $88. Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah. So what’s your limiting factor mean? What keeps you from growing even more? Transportation is a big one. Transportation, without being able to get drivers that we can count on, were held back with how many we can rescue. The other part is foster homes. You know, having the volunteers opened up their homes to take care of one of these dogs for a week or two. Solid state. Um, sometimes less. Sometimes a little more, but in general, it’s 1 to 2 weeks. Um, in helping those people available to us is what limits us. You know, just if we only have 10 foster families, we could only adopt him. $10 only rescue $10? Yeah, No, definitely volunteers or what powers? Animal rescue, aren’t they? And it’s so much. There’s so much volunteers can do to help area rescues. You mean, even if you do it from home on your computer, I can’t tell you how much help how helpful it is. What I have volunteers asked. You know, Can I answer e mails for you with the hundreds of e mails that we get every day that it’s like, Yes, thank you. Please. You know, here, answer these these air nice, you know, easy answers, and I’ll tell you what to say. But if you can answer emails, it’s huge help, you know, to posting pictures online. People can do that from anywhere. So don’t think that if you volunteer, you like, have to commit to being on site. You know, every time that someone calls you, there’s a lot of ways out. Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. to make, because oftentimes, when I talk to people, they feel like the only way to volunteers to drive down to local shelter and clean up panels. But as you said, I mean, people can volunteer. They could volunteer for you from California, right? There’s a lot of things virtually that we’re able to do today with the tools that we have. That’s right. Exactly. So for doing this even for just a few short years, you must have some really great stories as to you know why you continue to do this? Yes. I’m very inspirational stories. Um, let’s see. The I think the one that stands out the most is we had an application from a gentleman in New York. I mean, we do adopt outside of her mouth, So I think our furthest adoption is Portland, Oregon. But anyway, we got to get up accuses from out of state. So this guy applied as he and his application and look great. Everything’s good. Everything was checking out, and his wife called me and said, You know, he’s too proud to tell you this, but my husband was a firefighter on 9 11 He was there when the towers went down. He it was wow, as close as I’d come to anybody who had been there. And she said, You know, he’s too proud to tell you this But we’d really like a dog that it’s gonna be like it Not emotional support a case. It’s the wrong word, but comforting comforting to him till a mellow doc. There’s somebody who will be an aside, somebody who wants to be loved. Um And so we started talking and we set up a way to find the dog that he wanted, which was great. And I worked behind the scenes with our local fire department and our police station, and we arranged for a tribute to him when he came to pick up his dog on Transport Day. Um, so our whole fleet of police and fire department was there, and the small towns was probably 10 and 12 of them, and we owe mingled for a while. I don’t think he knew what was gonna happen, because I didn’t explain too much what was gonna happen. I want it to be a Friday for um and then the police chief started talking. We went over to him and you know, the first thing we did was we gave him back his adoption fee and told him how thankful we were for his service when he had done and then all of the fire Department people, Um, the firefighter started talking to him and they gave little speeches and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We were just all in awe of them. You know, I have described the feeling in the room was overpoweringly positive despite it being such a sad situation. But, you know, he was a firefighter who had been there, who came to us for a dog for comfort. And it speaks so much for what dogs do for the people. And it just it just being the heart smile. It was wonderful encounter. Yeah. Yeah. Those are the things that are inspiring you to keep doing what you do, because it’s a lot of work. They dio yes, those moments where people are appreciative or, ah, volunteer says how wonderful it is to be part of the team or an adopter That tells us a story about how the Doug they adopted helped them in their lives. That’s what keeps us going Yeah. No, I always encourage people to share their pictures and share their stories because I think that’s what that’s what That emotional support, that energy that kind of goes back into this animal rescue system. And for the thousands of volunteers across the country that do this, that’s what really powers them and keeps him going. It is, yes. So what’s next for Vermont Dog Rescue? I mean, it sounds like you’ve continued to grow and and hopefully you’re going to continue to get more foster homes and volunteers. But, I mean, where do you take this now? Yes, definitely trying to get more foster homes, more volunteers so we can save more lives. The struggle is transportation. As I mentioned before that I’m gonna focus our next. Um, we do have a nice group of foster homes here, right now that we are supporting, we provide all the food and the toys and you know, the 24 hour respite care. I guess you’d call it, um, you would we take care of all that? So we’re doing good. I think right now, with that, transportation is something that is a big problem for most rescues in the north because of our distance. You know, we’re so far away from some of these states. Mississippi, Louisiana, um, that finding drivers willing to care for the dog safely for two or three days to get them up here is a challenge. So I’d like to try to focus on different ways to tackle that, whether it’s through volunteer drivers through collaborating with places like do Burt, who already have ah, built in structure for finding drivers. Um, Or if it’s through a paid route, finding skilled people who are willing to make the drive in an affordable at an affordable price. Yeah. Yeah, because that’s got to get hard. I mean, you must have to raise a lot of money if you’re going the commercial route. Very expensive to go. The commercial route. Yes. Um, the latest prices that we’re paying our $175 production. Wow. And that’s just a transport piece. Okay. And that’s to go from say, you know, South Carolina all the way up to Vermont. Kristen drivers. We can get them all the way to Vermont. Yes. Okay, that would be the 175 but, you know, adoption prices. Are you know between 3 50 and 4 50 appear, we charged 3 75 So the 1 75 is a huge jump of the money that we bring in for the job. And then we have to pay for the vetting. Um, you know, all those things were going on with pulling a dog from a shelter, and so there’s never any money. In the end, it’s always a negative. So it would be very nice if we could work on volunteer drivers helping us. That would give us more money to reinvest, to go back and save the next door. Yeah. No, it’s definitely a challenge. As you said. I mean, there’s, you know, given the distance, a store where you are right is You know, you kind of think about how do we How do we use some of the concepts out there from the airlines? You know, the hub and spokes model, right. How do we get a high volume transport to a particular area that then can split off and go to smaller areas, you know? Yes, exactly. It should have, like a chain of of the bigger drivers with bigger trucks and vans, A lot of the volunteer setups are awesome, but it’s one person with a car and they could maybe put in one or two crates and, you know, maybe save $767 depending on the sides of their their car. But as a rescue mean, we want a full 22 doubts. We want to put 25 jobs. We want to save as many as we possibly can and getting those dogs into a car with Pia. Probably gonna need a bigger vehicle that someone who’s driving something bigger. Yeah, that’s it. It’s interesting when you think about it. I mean, there’s obviously already transportation that’s happened to deliver goods and products across the country, right? How do we How do we tap into this in some way, shape or form to increase the volume of animals were able to move safely? Yes, that is a great question. And I’d like to find the answer that would help us grow. Was a rescue would help other rescues up here. I’m in New England. Save more dogs. If we can all have a better network, that’s happened to for transport. Yeah, no. One of things. I was encouraged. People is even if they’re, you know, driving on vacation or driving their son or daughter toh school. That’s an opportunity for them to take an animal, right? So if you think about the frequency of people I’m always amazed is the number of people on the road. And I keep looking at him, and I wanna somehow say no. You should be taking a dog with you where you’re going. Yes, that would be great. Wouldn’t it just, you know, matching them up between somebody’s going? Yeah. Yeah. From from Vermont down to Florida with their child to get him set up for college in the fall. You know you to drop off a dog on the way. Yeah. Yeah. You have people that are taking vacations or, you know, I know a lot of people like to do cross country trip sometimes in the rent an RV and go across country. So just for fun. And wouldn’t it be great for two dogs to be riding in there? Do? Yeah, yeah. No, it’s a really cool idea. And I agree with you. I think we’ve got to figure out a way to get larger volume transport. I know from a commercial side, you know, like you said, it could get really expensive and the reliability. It’s hard to find the regular groups that are going to do this for you very hard when we have tried several paid transports over the years, and sometimes they work for two or three months and then they decide they aren’t coming up here anymore or they’ll they’ll do the drive, but they want to the drive in the winter. Um, I mean, there’s lots of different reasons for why things change, but we have yet to find somebody reliable that will come to us every two weeks. And I think that’s kind of sad with all the the ways that people can can drive. Like you said, all these opportunities of people going north and south, east and west to pick up or drop off a dog or a puppy that stays in to create usually in the car. So it’s not like there’s, but there shouldn’t be any fear of the dog because they’re kept in the great. They’re not even roaming around. Yeah, definitely. This is one, and certainly for any of our listeners that if they’ve got ideas, I’m sure Bridget and I would love to hear him for sure. Yes, definitely. Welcome. Any ideas to get this? Get this going? Yeah. No. And it’s really great what you’ve been able to do and kudos to you from kind of stumbling into this. And then, really, it sounds like you found your passion. Yes. Definitely. Found my passion, love helping. The dogs love seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they adopt Lessing the smiles on the dog’s faces when their tails are wagging and they realize this is for me. He was his home. These are my people. It’s wonderful. Yeah, Well, Bridget, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your stories there. Is there anything else? You want to share this before we wrap things up? Yes. One more thing. If you have the opportunity to volunteer for a local rescue or shelter, please reach out to them. They need your help. That is a great point. Well, Bridget, thank you again for coming on, and we look forward to connecting with you again in the future. Thank you, Chris. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member. Joined the air p A. To take advantage of all the resources we have to offer and don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.
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