Rescue group applies for nonprofit status

By Katie Demeria

A Shenandoah County rescue organization has found homes for 1,500 animals in two years — and it is taking the necessary steps to do even more.

The founder of Furry Friends, Robin Bradfield, said the organization recently applied for 501(c)(3), tax exemption status. While the paperwork goes through, she said, the organization has been granted a 27-month temporary license that will allow it to operate as a nonprofit.

Furry Friends provides foster homes to many animals in shelters, but according to Bradfield, it also steps in to act as the voice of the animals.

Representatives with the organization have fought for animals in court, once preventing a pit bull from being put down after it killed a goat when “put in a bad situation,” according to Bradfield. Other times, charges will be dropped against owners taken to court because the animal is given up to Furry Friends.

“We have to be their voice, because if we’re not, they have no voice,” Bradfield said.

With the acquirement of a nonprofit status, Bradfield said the organization does not plan to make any major change to its current model. It will continue to operate solely through volunteers.

One change, though, will be the addition of a physical location.

“Our goal is to either find a place where we can build something or find a building we can purchase, where we can have an emergency shelter,” she said.

Bradfield said Furry Friends will sometimes pull animals from shelters in order to foster them, but could only do so in states like West Virginia or North Carolina. They needed a 501(c)(3) license to pull from Virginia shelters.

Many of the animals the organization helps are referred to them through their Facebook page, which is how Furry Friends communicates with the public.

“We have a lot of cats, a lot of dogs, we’ve adopted bunnies, potbelly pigs, rats, snakes — you name it, we’ve adopted it out,” Bradfield said.

Furry Friends also provides food to owners in need and is working to ensure all animals in Shenandoah County, and surrounding counties, have outdoor shelter.

“You would be amazed how many animals have no form of shelter at all,” Bradfield said. “And this winter is supposed to be as bad or worse [than last year’s], they say. We’re trying to get things donated for outdoor cats and dogs.”

But Furry Friends also provides emergency relief funds, covering emergency medical costs when owners cannot, and when they hear of an animal in an emergency situation, even in another state, they will pay to have it boarded.

The emergency shelter would cut the costs of emergency boarding, Bradfield pointed out.

Over the next several weeks, Furry Friends, which operates entirely off donations, will have two fundraising events, including a homemade craft fair at the Woodstock Moose Lodge on Oct. 25 and the first adoption day and craft fair from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 8 at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital.

More will be posted about the events on the group’s Facebook page at http://tinyurl.com/ll8m2b5.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com