Animal rescue network honors the homeless
The International Homeless Animal Day, hosted by the Gulf Coast Humane Society, took place on Aug. 20 in Downtown Fort Myers. The Society celebrated by bringing together 13 of the most important animal organizations that fight every day for animal rights and dignity in Florida.
The event was planned as a candlelight vigil to honor animals who never found a home in our community, and were euthanized over the last year due to pet overpopulation.
Organizations such as the Boxer Rescue Angles of Florida, Helping Paws Animal Sanctuary, Working Dogs Rescue Academy, and the Southwest Florida German Shepherd Rescue shared their time with prospective foster parents and spectators to help raise awareness for animal rights.
The high energy of the organizers, attendees, and of course their furry friends, made the event more joyful than expected by some.
Local rescue entities and wildlife organizations took part in the event by setting up tables with information and sharing their rescue stories with the Fort Myers public.
One of those stories came from Erik Hoffer and his wife, Diane, who ran one of the busiest tents of the evening – the Southwest Florida German Shepherd Rescue, where a hard-to-ignore pack of German Shepherds sat watching the crowd.
The Hoffers started the Southwest Florida German Shepherd Rescue about nine years ago, but their work to help the community didn’t end there. They also run the Hoffer Family Foundation, which creates a chain of benefits around the animal cause.
The Hoffers also take German Shepherds in need and train them with basic obedience classes. They improve the physical and mental health of these dogs until they are ready for adoption. The money they receive from the adoption fees, which totals $275, are distributed among the Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County, The Gulf Coast Humane Society, and the Ya Ya Girls Back Pack Kidz which also benefits the Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“We help, on average, 136 German Shepherds a year,” Hoffer said, “So far this year we have found homes for 81.”
German Shepherds dominated the event until Shadow, a Newfoundland, who didn’t miss the chance of getting pet by the crowd, arrived.
A woman commenting on the profound gaze of the Helping Paws Animal Sanctuary’s kittens, didn’t realize that Shadow was right behind her, waiting for her attention. Her hand found Shadow’s snout and she jumped saying: “Ay mi madre!” Later said she’d never seen a dog that big and adorable.
The majority of the organizations that took part in the event came from nearby cities like Punta Gorda, Stuart, and others. Together they act as a network that helps the entire region.
Currently, the Gulf Coast Humane Society is working hard to bring animal protection awareness to Southwest Florida. Their next event, “Paint Your Pet” will take place Aug. 27 at Wine & Design in Fort Myers.