Operation Ava

by admin on October 29, 2012 · 5 comments

in Dog Trends, Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized

Hercules, Operation Ava, No Kill Pet Shelter

Hercules, Operation Ava, No Kill Pet Shelter

Operation Ava is downtown Philadelphia’s comprehensive no-kill dog and cat rescue, adoption and education center located at 860 – 862 North Poplar Steet. The expansive center with a veterinary wellness center, The Pet Shop and large outdoor play area houses up to one hundred dogs rescued from shelters which would otherwise have to euthanize the animals. ShopaholicDog was invited to visit Operation Ava and learn more about the life saving work the employees and volunteers do to save precious pups and kitties. Lifesaving Director Ray Little took some of his busy schedule to explain the important work they do at Operation Ava.

Ray Little explained, “Operation Ava is a no kill rescue, meaning we take in animals, pretty much regardless of their situation. As long as they don’t have major medical needs that we can’t address. Because we’re a non-profit, it makes it very difficult for us sometimes to handle big expenses but we take in all ages, all breeds and all sizes of dogs. We like to have a variety of pets, including cats, for our adopters to come and see. We keep things bright and cheerful here which is more inviting for adopters and we work through with certain impediments adopters might have. We try to make the adoption as easy as possible for them. Including educating them if they need some help guiding them through the process of taking home a new dog.”

“We also have an education component built into our program where we specifically target school age children, we’re looking to do much more of that in the future. We find that children are a great source of spreading the word about adopting. They take the information that they learn here back home to their parents. We emphasize responsible pet ownership and educating kids in becoming involved. Realizing, of course, that this is the next generation that’s going to be helping with this cause. So, it’s important to get them right on board as early as possible.”

Operation Ava, No Kill Pet Shelter

Daisy, a Boston Terrier at Operation Ava, No Kill Pet Shelter

Ray Little says, “We also allow children to come in with their parents to volunteer for our organization. That gets them to look at what shelter life for these animals is about and it gets them involved with our mission which is to save as many lives as possible.”

ShopaholicDog wondered how do the dogs arrive at Operation Ava? Ray Little, Lifesaving Director explained, “We work with high kill shelters. We seek out shelters throughout the country that are killing a lot of dogs and cats. And, unfortunately, nationwide there has been a steady growing problem with dogs who are perfectly adoptable sitting in shelters and being euthanized because of lack of space in the shelters. People abandon them, they come in as strays, they’re found by the local municipalities, they sometimes are surrendered simply because their owners can’t afford them – in this economy that’s becoming a big reason. We also find that a lot of people can’t afford the medical care for the dogs and that’s why nine year old Ava, who is the founder and her sister Lexi, are big proponents of the education part of our mission. She decided she wanted to find ways to address that issue, the issue of people who can’t afford to treat their pets, turning in their pets to shelters for that reason. And that’s a very, very good reason but the founders quickly found that that’s not all, they realized they wanted to find a way to rescue dogs from those shelters as well. So that’s become our main target over the last year or two.”

ShopaholicDog asked about some success stories at Operation Ava? Ray Little told this story, “One of my favorites would be a dog who came in about nine months ago, her name was Dottie. We brought her in from the Pennsylvania SPCA (their main concentration is on humane law enforcement), which had done a great job of initially treating some of her injuries. She was initially brought to Animal Control (the city shelter charged with taking in strays and surrendered pets), by a good samaritan who found her wandering the streets with really horrendous burns all over her back. Her skin was basically dissolved off of her back, you could see the underlying tissues. So, they had started her treatment and because they are such a busy place we decided to take over the treatment and bring her here. Unfortunately, in Dottie‘s case, no one ever came forward to make a report that they saw this abuse happening but we do think it was caused by somebody pouring chemicals on her.”

“In any case, she recovered nicely, she found her forever home and that’s what this is all about. There are numerous other stories like that you can read about on our website and we will be posting more. But, generally speaking a lot of the dogs that come into Animal Control are in less than prime condition. A lot of them have problems from being exposed to the elements, or not being fed properly, a lot of it is simple nutrition and proper care. Some of them may have been stray for weeks or even months before being brought in. You know, it just takes a couple of weeks of tender loving care and they’re back to their adoptable selves.”

Operation Ava, No Kill Pet Shelter

Operation Ava, No Kill Pet Shelter

ShopaholicDog inquired as to what is Operation Ava‘s biggest challenge right now? Ray Little, Lifesaving Director said, “Our biggest challenge is time and finding enough volunteers. We love our volunteers, they’re really the backbone of our organization. Without them this would not be possible. We are a non-profit, we have limited funding, so we have a small paid staff here who take care of the animals daily. And they do a fabulous job. However, these dogs all need homes because they are social animals and they don’t get that twenty-four hour care and individual attention that they deserve so that’s where our volunteers come in. The volunteers help us get the word out, they take photographs of the dogs, they post them to Petfinder, and Adopt-A-Pet, and they also take the dogs for walks. They participate in training the dogs to make them more adoptable. All of these things are crucial to the well-being of any animal who is primarily a social animal. Dogs love to have contact with other beings. That makes them such special animals. Cats also need that, we have volunteers who come in primarily to spend time with the cats, they don’t need to go for walks but they need to be held, they need to be brushed, they need that bonding time with humans.”

Volunteer Chris with Stray Kittens at Operation Ava

Volunteer Chris with Stray Kittens at Operation Ava

Volunteer Chris, the good samaritan who invited ShopaholicDog to visit Operation Ava, says, “I learned about Operation Ava through friends, a couple of women who were coming here. I started last December, with a few interruptions because I go away in the Summer, but at the moment I come on Tuesdays. But, I’m hoping I can come on Thursday mornings, too. Volunteering gives to the animals pride. No matter how you feel in the beginning, the empathy with me is so high tears come by themselves. I feel like I would like to take them all and bring them home. Cats and dogs alike. I remember when I first came, Dottie was here and her back was completely burnt and then gradually she healed. And she was a very good dog, her personality was just wonderful, you could just see the healing process just go on. And suddenly, I went on one of my trips and when I returned she was gone. So, that was such a happy story. I think volunteering gives me an opportunity to be more human. Having been a teacher, having been all of my life, practically, contributing to life around me, it’s something that I need to continue. It’s good for my spirit, it lifts me, it connects me to life. And they do give us their spirit, it’s such a non-conditional positive spirit that they give us.”

Volunteer at Operation Ava

Volunteer at Operation Ava

The picture above is the nerve center of Operation Ava with the kitchen where all the food is stored and distributed, all the pots, pans, bowls and dishes are cleaned, and the laundry for towels, blankets and toys. Volunteer Lexi is filling dog dishes with food and she also helps stuff Kong toys with peanut butter and food, a treat which keeps dogs occupied for hours and calms them down. The Kong toys gives the dogs a puzzle to figure out and gives their brains some exercise, too. ShopaholicDog asked Lexi what she likes best about volunteering at Operation Ava? “I like that the dogs love it so much. That’s that.”

Read more about how you can help by volunteering, donating, supporting and most of all adopting shelter dogs at the Operation Ava website. In the few hours ShopaholicDog visited Operation Ava we petted dozens of barking doggies, hugged cuddly, cute kittens and learned more about how kindness and love of the workers and volunteers heals not just abandoned or abused pets but our own human hearts, too.

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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer for ShopaholicDog.com

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

admin October 29, 2012 at 8:44 PM

They are all female Boston terriers who came from ACCT in Philly, Bowling Green Humane Society in Kentucky and St. Tamanny’s Humane Society in Louisiana. They are all between 1-3 years old and very friendly with people and other dogs. – Ray Little, Lifesaving Director at Operation Ava

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admin October 30, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Dear Don, The Animals and all of us who love and care for them at Operation AVA thank you so much for your loving contribution on ShopaholicDog Lifestyle Blog ! ♥
Chris Zelinsky, volunteer

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admin November 7, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Congratulations to Todd and Lizzie for adopting the adorable Petey! ShopaholicDog is so happy he’s found his forever home.

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