By Josette Keelor
WOODSTOCK -- At Pet Purrfection pet shop on U.S. 11 north of Woodstock, it's hard for co-owner Diane Staffa to get a word in between the shouts of 2-year-old African gray parrot Sky. Within his cage, he whistles for attention or repeats words that he has learned. If you ask Staffa, he doesn't like being confined behind bars, and she seems to be right. Once the cage door is open and he can climb out, he quiets down, knowing his words had the desired effect.
Sky is one of the many rescued animals that have come through Staffa's door over the years, and though she can't always translate for them, Staffa tries to speak on their behalf.
On Sept. 28, for the fourth year, she and her husband Darrin are planning a car and bike show in Woodstock to benefit area animal rescue groups, like Furry Friends Needing Homes and the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter. Funds will go to spay and neuter costs and vaccinations. Last year the benefit raised $2,500. This year, she said, "We're hoping to double it."
Founded by Robin Bradfield, Furry Friends is a member-run group of close to 5,000 animal lovers who help re-home animals in the Shenandoah Valley, Staffa said.
She said the group recently merged with fellow rescue group Bella's Angels, which she is working to turn into a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit.
Furry Friends receives requests for help through its Facebook page but also lends aid outside of adoptions.
"We do have people get on there that have fallen on hard times and ask us to help with emergency vet bills," Staffa said.
Furry Friends has re-homed over 800 animals in the last two years, and Staffa said she kept 10 of them herself.
"I'm a foster failure," she said.
At the pet shop, where Staffa said Sky "likes to actually bark like the dogs back there," 8-year-old wire-haired dachshund Woody keeps him company.
"He's scared of everything, this one is," said Staffa, who rescued the dog from an elderly couple who couldn't take are of him anymore. Jasmine "Jazz," a 1-year-old pit bull, was surrendered to Furry Friends through Pet Purrfection last month.
Through Pet Purrfection, Staffa has found homes for snakes, guinea pigs, chickens and turtles.
"You name it, we'll take it," she said.
"I've had several [pit bulls] surrendered to me. Probably 20 in a year, maybe 30," she said. Three of them live with her now.
"One of them was actually awarded to us from the courts ... because we help with pit bulls, so the judge gave us custody," she said.
A big motivation for her is knowing the horrors that animals face if not rescued, whether from a hopeless living situation or a cruel method of euthanasia. Some states and counties still have gas chambers in shelters, she said, "and [the animals] suffer tremendously."
"Once our 401 comes in, we will be able to rescue pets that are on death row," she said. "Furry Friends can't because it's just a Facebook page."
Initially, Staffa started the car and bike show to raise money for the fire department, but last year she decided to benefit the animal shelter instead.
"This year we want to get more involved with the animal shelter."
The Fourth Annual Car & Bike Show will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 28, with a rain date of Oct. 5, in the parking lot of Lowe's at 1220 Henry Ford Drive, Woodstock. Registration is $10. Expect fun, food, music, vendors and children's activities. Proceeds will benefit rescue groups and the animal shelter, and rescue groups will be on site for animal adoptions. The first 50 cars will receive a dash plaque. Food will be provided by Rutz's Backyard BBQ. For more information, call Mike Chavez at 540-974-3838 or visit Bella's Angels Animal Rescue on Facebook
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org