Art 4 Animals is a homeless pet adoption, volunteer-run, nonprofit organization that works to eliminate pet homelessness in Canada through TNR ( Trap, Neuter, Rescue/Release), spay/neuter education and assistance, public outreach, and pet food banks. They fundraise for these programs through creative means such as art classes, local artist partnerships, and the sale of donated art, crafts, and other treasures at their centre.
Their centre is located at 38 Adelaide St N. unit 3 and is a graciously shared space with us thanks to Life Paths Global Alliance and includes our unique retail shop, adoptable cats, and a beautiful, large loft space for larger events.
Learn more about Art 4 Animals!
Visit their website at www.art4animals.ca.
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Hey, this is Tanisha Shea Hasen. And you’re tuned into the animal innovation podcast. You’ve tuned into the Animal Innovation show where we feature people, products, services and ideas that are helping animals and the people who care for them live better lives. If it’s innovative and if it helps animals, you can find it here first. So get ready. Here comes this week’s newest innovation for animals. Very good, very good introduction. So thank you for coming on Tunisia. So tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals. So, I am a registered vet tech in Ontario Canada and I started a organization called Art for Animals and basically we fundraise using creative types of means, like workshops and classes. We invite artists in, you know, and all those types of things to raise funds for local programs such as spain Mutar initiatives, outreach. We help fund public pet food banks and then we also actually rescue and do trap neuter release for homeless kitties. You guys do so many things and I really love, I love this angle. It’s so creative. It’s so innovative. So tell us a little bit more when I think art, I think physical art, but it’s it’s not just that it’s any of the arts that you guys are trying to found a way to get donations and, and programs involved. Yeah. So when we’re able to do events, we do anything and everything. We will do photo shoots with local photographers, will do music events. We’ve done even things like yoga comedy nights, type of possible anything you can put into the arts category. We’ve probably done some kind of fundraiser related to that. We haven’t done poetry yet though. So that maybe there you go. 20, thing, right? Yeah, that’s really cool. So you guys then work? How do you find the local artists? Like how do you go about actually putting on one of these programs? So we’re really lucky to, um since we have, you know, got going, we we’ve been very lucky to have a lot of community support and were even given a location by the city of London where we are located to have a physical little spot and that’s kind of where we started, we called it the center and basically we had tons of, you know, local artists, local art, we would have guest stars come there, you know, we would just advertise for the artists and then it just really snowballed and you know, more and more artists would tell other artists we did these awesome handmade markets, which I can’t wait till we can get those going again. And it just more and more artists got involved and and wanted to be a part of it because we also really tried to make sure that things were affordable for the artists because we wanted them to be promoted as well. And for people to be encouraged to shop local, find creative unique gifts, you know, for their family and friends, But also know that in some way, you know, either by that artist being there or buy them supporting that those programs that were actually also helping our community and helping the animals who really need the funds. Yeah. And I really love that aspect of this. You guys are really community focused, as you said, trying to get people to shop local. So tell me more about how the program works when you’re working with an artist. I mean, are they discounting or donating the art? And then people are bidding on them. I mean, give me a little bit more about how the program works. So we kind of started at a like doing kind of commission based, but because we are volunteer ran that just got really complicated, I found. But then what we started doing was more so giving them opportunities to showcase their work. So we would do, um, so even now, like an artist can contact us and they can do a guest spot, for example. And it’s a it’s a $20 donation, which is really hard to find a place to showcase your work for $20. Exactly. Yeah. And we even like provide the table for them. We help them advertise a dual benefit for us is that it’s at our cool little shops. So, you know, they bring people to us ideally and we bring people to them. So it’s kind of a dually beneficial. But yeah, basically, you know, we we just tried to provide them with opportunities. Sometimes we’ll have artists, for example, the Shannon who does a lot of our photography will do like a 5050 split, for example. Or you know, sometimes the artists actually present the opportunities to us and sometimes we present the opportunities to the artist now. How many years have you guys been doing this? Oh, I believe it will be five years in july that art front people’s was started. Um, it was just kind of, we literally called the Art for Animals project initially because it was just supposed to be kind of like a fun way to raise animals. And it went really well the first time and I was just like, okay, there’s something here. Yeah, I was going to say, how did, how did the idea came about is just, hey, let’s try this right. Another interesting type of promo, but then you said, wait, there’s something more to this. We could do this on an ongoing basis and really engage people. And I think that was what I saw is that there was an opportunity to raise some funds at the time, we were not rescuing our own cats. We were working with rescues to help them raise funds and things like that. We still do that. We still will partner with them, but now we also need the funds to to our own rescue endeavors. But yeah, basically it was just um, I saw that if there’s something in it for both parties, because, you know, rescues are always asking for funds, asking for funds, which, you know what, by all means please, you know, support rescues as much as you can. But what I found is that if you give something to people in return, you know, they’re much more likely to kind of keep coming back and keep supporting you because you know, they’re getting a benefit. But they also know that the animals and and the community are getting a benefit as well. So it’s kind of a a give and take, you know, but that that’s what I found is that people want something to bring them together other than just hey give me some money. Exactly right. Gives them a purpose to get together. Now has there been one particular event or a particular type of art that it was your favorite when you guys were doing this? 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But we did do um yoga with kittens and then coloring with kittens. Probably one of my favorites simply because there was a lot of kittens in one room and it was just, how do you do you do with kittens? Oh, it’s, it’s interesting because, you know, some of them are very like intrigued. And then other ones, it’s like basically we have the volunteers kind of running around like comforting anyone’s that are scared and then anyone’s that are playing, you know, getting them to engage more with the people. And so it’s basically like babysitting kittens for an hour or two. Um, but people really enjoy those and we still get requests like, hey, when is the next one is going to be? You know, there’s not a lot of yoga and coloring that happens. It does, it’s, you got to be flexible. A lot of, a lot of cuddles that is happening too. So that’s probably one of my favorite fundraisers that we’ve done. But you know, we’ve had so many creative bodies come in and like show us interesting things and I’ve I’ve definitely learned so much, you know, in the five years about what art can be and how it’s really limited by your creativity for sure. Now can you show what’s your background? How did you come to be involved in this? How did you come to be involved in rescue? I mean, what’s your background? Yeah. So I um originally was kind of lost, you know, a little bit after high school didn’t really, I worked jobs and you know, paying the bills. I was actually in the automotive industry when the crazy collapse happened. I can’t remember the year. But anyways about 10 years ago, if something like that. And uh I was in the automotive industry got laid off and I was lucky enough to find a program where I could go back to school and I hadn’t actually hadn’t done any schooling other than you know some business courses and stuff online. So I was like oh this is an amazing opportunity you know. Um So I decided to go to school for veterinarian technician and graduated. I got my registry so I’m now an R. V. T. And I started in shelter medicine. So I was working in a shelter. I was the only animal health professional I basically just worked with like bylaw officers. So so little bit of a challenge at times to say the least. But you know I pushed through it and I made some really amazing rescue context and that’s kind of was my it was kind of a sink or swim. I feel like because I just kind of got you know throwing uh into this industry where rescues were such a big part of you know the shelter that I worked at and I knew it rescues existed, but I didn’t really know what that looked like. And I definitely realized very quickly how important they were and just that I wanted to do whatever I could do to support them. I love that. What a great story. I mean you started out in the automotive industry and then just as things happen, right then you ended up in veterinary industry and then into sheltering and now it’s like look at what you’ve done now, like you’ve created this amazing program and something that I really feel like could be easily replicated to other places around the world. It would be my dream, right? Is you know, that’s always the dream is that you hope, you know, whatever you create is going to be, you know take off and that other people are going to value it and and be interested in it. And I definitely did not think five years ago like when I started art for animals that it would have snowballed into what it has become. It’s it’s sometimes when I think like this is my life, it’s definitely not what I had imagined, but I couldn’t picture it differently at this point. I do really enjoy the work that I do even though it can be very stressful and emotional at times I find it extremely rewarding for sure. So are used to working as a vet tech and and doing art for animals on the side or has this become everything you do now? So I don’t work in a clinic anymore. I found clinic it was just it was just a little too um a little too stressful. But then I also found two, I was like okay you know, and I kind of did the things I wanted to do as an R. B. T. And I was like okay, I’m an R. B. T. And then it was like now what I felt like I had kind of plaque toad and and I I still felt like I wanted to do more, but I didn’t know how I could do that in the position that I was in, you know, working in clinic because you are kind of, you know, um when you don’t own the clinic or or own your own organization or run your own organization, you’re obviously um you know, you have to cater to whatever rules are in place. That’s so yeah, so I I still feel like I’m an R. B. T. In a lot of ways because I still do actually work like in the pet food industry. So I don’t necessarily tell people I’m an R. B. T. But I give them information and education that I know, you know, it’s important for their animals to know. So I still feel like I’m helping animals in that perspective. But then running my own rescue like, oh yeah, I get to use my skills all the time messengers, so I’m not being paid per se to be an RV T. But I still feel like I’m definitely using my skills. Yeah, for sure. Now you’ve had quite the interesting journey, so I’m curious what have you learned about yourself throughout this process? Oh, so much for myself. I uh you know, kind of along this this journey, I didn’t realize this is like kind of personal, but a lot of like my close to people know this. I didn’t realize this, but I have horrible anxiety. It’s now managed and you know, um I I’ve you know, done the work, done the classes, so I’m definitely at a good place now, but I didn’t realize that I had anxiety until I kind of went through some, some motions and and just kind of hit kind of a rock bottom place for myself and this is all, you know, well, art for animals was with this thing. And um, I I realized that I had to, uh, you know, put some work in and get into a better place, a better zone mentally, and I’m so glad that I didn’t, you know, just give up and and, you know, be like, I’m done with this, it’s too hard or whatever because I feel that, you know, the public speaking and just like the public, you know, communicating with the public and and dealing with difficult situations, like it’s not going to go away, you know? So I was just like, you know what, I need to deal with this anxiety, I need to get it under control. And I have I I really um you know, and now I’m able to, like, when I hear of other people going through like mental health issues and things like that, it’s like, I can totally relate because I remember being in that hole and I remember like having to dig myself out. So that’s definitely something that I take with me. And I think it’s important to, you know, always remember that you never know what other people are going through. So it’s important not to judge them, but then also to present to be a support, you know, for others because we’re all in this together in the end and it’s like none of us are getting out alive so we might as well make the best of it. I love that. It’s be a nice human, right? Like it’s like you said, we are all in this together. I mean if the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all in this together. Yeah. So what’s next for art for animals? Where do you see this going? What would you do if your cat stop breathing? 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Actually, we do a lot of work with feral kitties and I can happily say we’ve actually, so we just reached 500 adoptions, actually only been rescuing for about three years. So that’s pretty, I’m I’m pretty proud of that number of my team because it’s definitely a team effort. You know, I started are for animals, but there’s no way I could do this without all the amazing helpers and community support that we have. But yeah, I would love to have a feral cat sanctuary. And then just a safe place just for animals that may be can’t be adopted. So just like a sanctuary in general, but then also kind of an expansion on our physical location. So just a place where we could do more. You know, I would love to yeah, I would just I would love to see a place where our community could go and enjoy, you know, each other and then also again help out some animals. But then, you know, yeah, just just a beautiful location. I don’t know, I just always pictured this just place in my dreams and then as far as like our programs and things like that, you know, my goal is uh just, it doesn’t make sense to me that we have, you know, all these homeless cats, cat homeless like cat population is quite bad in in our area. And my goal is just to slowly eliminate that through our we have like low income spay neuter programs, through our education through our resources. And then also just through, you know, the rescuing and re homing of the homeless cats and I eventually like don’t want to have to rescue. Exactly put yourself out of the job. Isn’t that as I would hope, that’s all rescues. Exactly. Like I always think like that’s why it was important to me to be so much more than a rescue because it was important to me that we’re addressing the causes, like how why is this happening and how can we kind of target it before it gets to the point where another animal is homeless. Yeah. So Tunisia, if people are learning more about you, About art for animals, where can they go tom how they can get a hold of you? Yeah. Our website probably is the best place. So it’s art the number four animals dot C A. And then we are really active, especially on facebook. I find if anybody wants like the cutest stream of adorable cats ever, I would suggest following are adoptable facebook page. So we have a special page just for like all cats all the time. It’s awesome. Uh and it’s on facebook under the name Art for animals, adoptable Z. So that’s uh that’s my, one of my, sometimes I literally just go on the page and scroll and I’m just like, just make you happy, right? Yeah. Just happy. It’s awesome Tanisha. This has been really great to talk to and I’m really thankful you came on the show today. Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap things up? Oh spay and neuter. Spay, neuter. Spay and neuter. Um I guess to me that’s what I see as the root cause of rescues, even having to exist in the first place. So I guess just making sure that everybody is on board, you know, whispering and Neutering cats, dogs and uh you know, just, I don’t know, I guess just do it because you love them as a species. You know, you’re not hurting your animal and and it’s really for everybody’s well being. Yeah, it’s a really important thing for people to remember always, Right. That’s how we can humans created this problem and humans can solve those problems. So I think it’s a really good point. Well, I’m really glad you came on today, Tunisia. So thank you for that. And before we wrap things up, I’m just going to remind people that if they have an idea for somebody actually an interview for the show, somebody’s got a new product a service or just a fantastic program. Like what Tanisha has just go to innovations dot show and let us know about it. So thank you again, Tunisia for coming on. I appreciate it. Thanks so much for having me and showcasing our for animals. Thanks for joining us for the animal innovations show. If you want to volunteer to help animals, check out Dilbert dot com where you can join tens of thousands of do for tears, supporting rescues and shelters around the world to help animals. And if you know, if something or someone innovative that’s helping animals, let us know by going to www. Dot innovations dot show.