Shortly after their 17-year old cat passed away a couple of years ago, the Rizzo family of Lantana arrived at the Highland Village Petco to adopt a kitten. The family was torn on which of two kittens to choose, so they did even better– they adopted both. And, in the process of adding another couple of furry faces to their brood, they discovered they’d joined another family—the Animal Allies of Texas.
The Animal Allies of Texas (AAT) organization is a group of about 40 animal-loving volunteers whose goal is the adoption of cats and dogs into forever-homes.
The non-profit is in partnership with Petco’s Highland Village location. In 2013, 56 cats and kittens were adopted and eight more have found new homes in the first month of 2014.
Assisting with that effort is Kelly Rizzo and her two sons Trey, 9, and Trevor, 7. They’ve served as Animal Allies volunteers in the “cat group” for almost two years.
The volunteers live across Lantana, Flower Mound, Highland Village, Denton and Lewisville. They are adults, children, retirees and parents … people from all walks of life. They are as young as six and as old 78 and are united by a common love for the animals.
Rizzo said approximately 60 cats and kittens are up for adoption, as well as approximately 70 dogs at the present time.
Cage space is limited at the store, so only four or five cats can be kept at a time and receive daily care from volunteers who arrive three times a day to handle the cleaning, feeding and spending time with the animals. It’s a very stressful environment for the cats, so after three to four weeks, Animal Allies rotates those animals to foster care.
“People tend to adopt kittens more, but we rotate the older ones too,” said Rizzo. “As they get older, it’s harder to convince people to adopt them, but in any case we always encourage them to think ‘rescue’ first.”
The volunteers don’t just provide the shelter, food and care; they also provide the bridge to a successful adoption.
Although some facilities only require filling out of paperwork to adopt a cat or dog, Animal Allies coordinates home visits with the foster families, so the prospective owner has a chance to see the animal in a more relaxed, domesticated setting. This also provides the owner with a better perspective of what equipment, space and supplies are needed before making a decision.
“We want to make sure everything is a good fit,” Rizzo said.
Seeing an animal adopted is of course the most fulfilling part of their work. It’s affordable, too. The $110 adoption fee includes the rabies vaccination and microchip implant, plus the animal is spayed or neutered.
For people interested in volunteering or providing foster homes for the animals, or to adopt an animal, call 214-505-4926 or visit www.animalalliesoftexas.org.