AC Paw co-founder Brian Manley gets comfy with Sugar, a dog saved by the animal rescue group.
Brian Manley’s voice breaks a bit when he talks about “Winter,” an old golden retriever who was hit by a snowplow in Grand Traverse County one night. A passing driver had witnessed the accident and had Manley, executive director of AC Paw, on the phone, asking what he should do.
“Can you meet me at the vet?” Manley asked the man.
There were three options that night: Let the dog bleed on the side of the road. Take him to a vet where he would be put down because of his age; or save him.
The dog’s leg was amputated and he spent the remaining three years of his life in the loving and caring home of a foster family.
“Those are the kinds of things we live for,” said Manley, referring to AC Paw, a Northern Michigan non-profit that provides medical services and foster programs for stray or unwanted cats and dogs.
AC Paw recently won Pet Friend Magazine’s Annual “PAW” Award, having the fewest cases of euthanasia for dogs and cats in 2010 – thanks to the valiant efforts of Manley, co-founder June McGrath and the countless volunteers who house these pets when there’s nowhere else to go but under the needle.
FOSTERING OF THE FURRY
Lori McFarlan, marketing consultant for Northern Star Broadcasting, has been bringing unwanted dogs into her Fife Lake home for the past three years. She got involved with AC Paw after finding Benson, a pug she adopted as a companion for her elderly basset hound.
“A few months after I adopted Benson, Brian Manley called to see if I’d be interested in fostering some puppies that were going to be euthanized that day,” she recalled.
Since then, McFarlan has fostered 32 dogs of all shapes and sizes – from pugs and shih tzus to Labradors and mixed breeds.
“I have an in-out kennel at my house,” she said. “With large breed dogs it’s fine year-round because it’s warm. For smaller dogs I have an area in the house I section off when I’m away.”
Although AC Paw provides pet food for its foster parents, McFarlan purchases her own – a personal contribution to the cause that spent over $120,000 on pet care last year (which includes food, crates, vaccinations, medical care and spay/neuter services).
About 37% of the organization’s operating budget comes from adoption fees, according to Manley – which costs $150.
“For that, you’re getting a healthy pet,” said McFarlan regarding the fee. “That’s less than what is spent for veterinary care.”
In terms of letting go of a foster pet, McFarlan said the process is hard, but it sure beats the alternative.
“There are times when we’ve come in and the animal is doped up, ready to be euthanized,” said June McGrath. “We actually have one dog in the car right now who was about to be put down.”
Manley said despite the seemingly neverending number of animals who are brought to AC Paw—whether it’s risk of euthanization, abandonment or medical issues—even saving just one more pet’s life is worth it.
“We look at the fact that we’ve rescued so many animals who are now all sterilized—a total of over 6,200 total—plus an extra 800 outside of what we do. You can multiply that knowing there are thousands who didn’t have to die,” he pointed out.
However, the organization is only successful if volunteers continue to open their homes, taking the time to transport the animals to vet appointments and treat them as if they were their own – if only for a short while.
“It’s our job to mend broken hearts, spirits and sometimes broken bodies,” said McFarlan, “then they can move on to a loving home.”
For those interested in volunteering or fostering a pet for AC Paw, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or acpaw@ torchlake.com. Contributions supporting the continuous care of cats and dogs may be mailed to AC Paw, PO Box 94, Acme, MI 49610.