Press readers showed their support of the organization, known as DASH, by voting it the Favorite Charity of 2011 in a Facebook contest held last month.
“I didn’t think we had a chance,” said DASH President Rick Stirrat. “There were so many great organizations nominated and we’re so small and new, but thank you so much to the community for voting for us. We feel very blessed.”
As the winner of the contest, DASH will receive a free, full-page color advertisement in the Press in the upcoming year. The prize couldn’t have come at a better time, as the young pet rescue group is busy raising funds for a no-kill shelter in Antioch that features animals rescued from only the Antioch Shelter.
“People have no idea what the state of animal shelters is these days,” said DASH Board Member and Homeless Animal Response Program (HARP) President Karen Kops. “There are so many animals packed into these shelters, and our goal is to rescue as many as possible. We need a facility so that we can do that, but for now, we are run exclusively by volunteers who act as foster families until we can find our rescues a good home.”
Kops said she has formed friendships with many staff members at the Antioch Animal Shelter and that the partnership between DASH and the shelter has led to the rescue of 27 dogs since July. To date 17 dogs have been adopted from DASH.
Stirrat said DASH members pull dogs out from the Antioch Shelter on a weekly basis, but when the group gets its facility, he’d like to rescue as many as 40 dogs per month and add a cat rescue program. He estimates DASH will need to raise at least $250,000 to keep a facility afloat.
“What we really need is for some big donors to step up,” Stirrat said. “It would be great if someone had a space that they could donate to us, but for now, we’re focused on raising funds and rescuing as many dogs as we can with the volunteers that we have.”
DASH has seven volunteer families who foster dogs, and Dog Adoption Manager Casey Harvey says she hopes that number will grow as more people learn about the program.
“There is nothing like pulling a dog out of the shelter,” Harvey said. “The feeling is indescribable and the dogs are happy, too. They always do this little freedom dance. There’s a misconception that shelter dogs are runts; that they are mean, pet rejects, but that’s not true. Shelter dogs are so loving and friendly. They just need a family to share that love.”
Families who foster dogs are provided all the materials needed for caring for the dog while it stays at their home. All area residents are welcome to serve as foster families as long as they can bring the dog to a weekly adoption event held on Friday nights at PetSmart in Antioch.
DASH dogs are adopted for $200. They come spayed or neutered, microchipped and up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. DASH hosts pet adoptions on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. at PetSmart, 5879 Lone Tree Way in Antioch. For more information, call 925-219-0151 or visit www.deltaanimalssafehaven.org. To become a foster family to a rescued dog, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.