Welcome to another Pug Squad Featured Rescue! This time we would like to showcase Arizona Pug Adoption & Rescue Network (APARN). Based out of Mesa, Arizona, Terri Wood, President, Founder and unabashed Fairy Pug Mother, took a few minutes to chat with us.
“I’m sure every rescue feels they go the extra mile to make sure their pugs go to the absolute best home possible, and we are no different there,” she says. “I do believe that our creative fundraising makes us unique, in particular our Annual Cutest Pug Contest. Started in 2007, this annual fundraiser usually brings in $25,000 and provides the top 12 fundraising pugs for the following year’s calendar. We have worked with local professional photographers to provide the calendar photos, all fitting into an overall theme for the year. We started our Gimme Five program in 2011, where people are encouraged to sign up to donate $5 a month on automatic payments via PayPal.”
Like many rescues and business alike, the pandemic took its toll on and amount of work APARN is able to do. Pre-COVID, they rescued anywhere between 150 and 325 pugs annually. Now, they’re averaging around 50. However, wither it’s 50 or 500, the success stories remain.
“One of our greatest,” Terri says, “was the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of 60 pugs from a puppy mill that the Sheriff’s Office busted in mid-November 2015. We took in pugs of all ages and issues. Some needed eye enucleations, a few had demodex mange, eye infections, ear infections, etc. There were a few pugs that needed socialization to overcome fear of people. One pug hid under the bed in her foster home for the first six months! They all got medical care and so much love.”
As with any rescue, nothing is easy and the challenges are enormous. One of APARN’s biggest is recruiting new foster homes and sometimes it feels as if it’s never enough.
“In the last 18 months, we lost 10 foster homes to out-of-state moves. There are so many rescues in the greater Phoenix area, and only so many foster homes to fill the need. So many people are afraid to foster because they believe they will get too attached to a foster pug, and be too sad to see it get adopted. We try to focus on the joys fostering brings, in addition to saving a life. Without foster homes, we just can’t take in pugs in need.”
One important point Terri brings up is the emotional toll of rescue. Often, people are unprepared for the challenge of facing the realities of rescue work. As she states, “It is heartbreaking seeing the abuse some of these babies suffer. It is important to keep the focus on the dogs, and do what is right for them, even if that means humane euthanasia when there are no other options. Rescue volunteers aren’t in it for the pay (there isn’t any) and we don’t do it to glorify ourselves; in fact, most of us are introverts who shy away from the limelight. It is all about the pugs and what is best for them.”
Terri keeps a quote by Margaret Mead to mind: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” She enjoys and takes pride in the sense of community that volunteering with APARN brings. She finds the time spent with others working toward common goals very fulfilling. “I have no doubt that working with rescue pugs over the last 22 years has made me a better person.”
As with any rescue, donations are the lifeblood of an all-donation-based group like APARN. In 2011 they started a program called Gimme Five. The goal is to enroll 2,000 people in a $5-a-month automatic donation, currently via Paypal. “Of course,” she says, “people are welcome to enroll at a higher level. Reaching the equivalent of 2,000 people donating $5 a month will provide $120,000 in annual operating funds. We are re-introducing the Gimme Five program this spring, with added incentives for those who enroll and refer others to enroll.”
Thanks Terri for taking the time and for all of the hard work that you and your volunteers do!
You can reach out to APARN via snail mail at 2747 E. University #30988, Mesa, Arizona 85203. Or send Terri an email: Terri@aparn.org. Please visit their website for much more information at www.aparn.org.