How one agency is using their Florida Animal Friend grant to offer more affordable spay/neuter services.
At Florida Animal Friend, our mission is to help save the lives of countless unwanted cats and dogs by supporting organizations that offer free or low-cost spay and neuter services across the state of Florida. Our specialty license plate raises much needed funds, which we award as grants to organizations that offer spay/neuter services. We love to hear from our grant recipients and how they are making a difference in their communities.
Let’s Meet: Rapscallion to the Rescue
We had the chance to catch up with Sarah Podobinski, Vice President of Rapscallion to the Rescue, a Levy County based dog rescue. They specialize in personal rescue, helping special needs pets and navigating hospice situations. They help to provide animals with what they need to survive while also looking ahead to find out how they can help solve the bigger problem. Podobinski shared with us what makes their organization different from others:
“A lot of other organizations focus on low income or TNR (trap, neuter, return for community cats), so we [Rapscallion to the Rescue] saw a need and an opportunity to work with large dogs. Getting a large dog fixed at a private clinic can be very expensive because it [the surgery cost] is based on weight.”
As you might already know, the high cost of services for large breed dogs can be a deterrent for many. Sarah says that “pitbulls and large dogs are the hardest to get adopted.” These dogs require a lot of care, and for someone who is willing to adopt one of these, Rapscallion to the Rescue is making it a little easier. “We wanted to include assistance for the middle class that usually don’t qualify for financial assistance.” Sometimes families do not qualify for financial assistance and that’s where their organization can step in. With the Florida Animal Friend grant, they’re able to offer free or low-cost spay/neuter services for large breed dogs.
“We get a really good response when we offer it for free. We suggest not requiring a co-pay, if possible. We also fundraise separately for rabies vaccines so we can offer that as well,” Podobinski said. ($2 per sterilized animal of the FL Animal Friend grant can be used for rabies vaccine.)
How has the Florida Animal Friend Grant helped their mission?
They really wanted to drive down the growing number of unwanted large dogs. As more and more dogs receive the surgery, they are seeing the effect. Ultimately, these efforts are driving down the homeless pet population. More specifically, Podobinski noted “we’ve noticed a decrease in the number of litters being given away on Facebook and an increase in people’s willingness to take advantage of our spay/neuter services.”
This is so encouraging to hear. It’s why we do what we do.
What advice do you have for shelters/agencies applying for large breed grants?
“Do it. Just do it.”
Podobinski says that prevention is the best place to start when trying to tackle the overpopulation problem. And we tend to agree. She’s already starting to see the impact and we’d love to see that impact spread statewide.
Rapscallion to the Rescue also advises that organizations build strong relationships with your local veterinarians. “This relationship is so important. Once they understand the mission, our vets have been able to offer great rates. Which helps the money to go so much further. So don’t be afraid to sit down and negotiate a little.” They’ve had great success by sharing their heart for animals and their overall goal for keeping animals out of shelters. Who wouldn’t want to help that mission?
Don’t stop at the grant though. Sarah continues with fundraising efforts from “private donors, events locally where we sell stuff like cute dog collars and toys, yard sales, and Facebook fundraising. We always try to match funds for extra encouragement.”
For shelters who want to also start focusing on large dog spay/neuter services, Sarah advised that you should “focus it based on the response you’re going to get. You’re going to have people that don’t meet the low income threshold. You’re going to have large breed dogs over 40 pounds or any type of pitbull – and that is a very broad set of requirements that can include a very large base of animals that may not have been able to get funded outside of that large breed grant.”
But what she wishes more owners knew? “It’s not going to affect them health wise. We get a lot of pushback from owners about fixing them at eight weeks old. A lot of private vets will say to wait until they are 6 months to a year but there’s not really much basis to that. We, personally, haven’t seen issues in fixing dogs early. The health risks are greater if you don’t get them fixed, possibly resulting in infections and cancers.”
So how can you apply for a Florida Animal Friend grant?
We’re so glad you asked and would love for your organization to apply.
Organizations should apply during the open grant application period between January 1st and April 1st. We’ll notify grant recipients around mid-August after the review process has been completed and final decisions by the Florida Animal Friend Board of Directors have been made.
Timeline for a grant application:
January 1st: Grant Application Opens
April 1st: Grant Application Due
Mid-August: Grant Winners Announced
Mid-August, following announcement: Grant Funds Released
For more information on Florida Animal Friend or how to apply, check out our F.A.Q.