Andrea Johns is no stranger to helping displaced animals find homes. As a former organizer for Fido Does Ferndale and a volunteer for the now dis-banded Waggs & Wishes she's helped make dozens of pet connections. Now, in the absence of a Ferndale shelter or rescue group, she and pal Rachel Heller are making things happen with their new pet connecter group, Ferndale Fur Trading Company.
"The Ferndale Fur Trading Company was started because the citizens began expressing a need for a rescue group in town," Johns said. "We saw an opportunity to bring these folks together in a citywide effort to help pets find homes and to help citizens find pets! Because we two have so many human connections in Ferndale, and so many friends in the rescue community, we decided we could best be used to bring the two together through fun events, networking and creating visibility for the animals.
"There is also a forgotten community of individuals who take in and foster strays on their own. The Ferndale Fur Trading Company is a resource and outlet for them as well." Johns works at Dino's Lounge and Heller often helps her friends at the Rust Belt Market, giving them plenty of potential pet parents to network with.
The group is not an adoption agency, simply a network through which to promote pet adoptions.
Aside from the founders, FFTC has a small group of about 20 people who are lending a hand. "The beauty of the group is simplicity," Johns said. "Volunteers can put in as much or as little time as they want, and will be given projects to help with fundraising and events, or we will get them in contact with rescue groups if they want to work directly with animals, walking, cleaning and socializing.
"Our long-term goal is to create a 'Visibility Team,' a core group of volunteers who can pick up dogs from shelters or fosters and walk them around Ferndale, meeting folks and socializing them. We would also like to eventually start a Petfinder page and official website to promote the animals that individuals are rescuing and fostering. Then, of course, adoption events, fundraisers for special causes and community awareness events."
Because the group is so new, there are several things that need attention. Johns said everyone is welcomed and needed.
"Anyone with special talents… grooming, training, web and graphic design, photography, etc. will be greatly appreciated and used. Anyone who is just curious can meet with us to plan and brainstorm. Members of different rescue groups are encouraged to contact us, so we can find a way to help. This is so new, and the possibilities are endless if we gather a large enough army."
They held a Pitt Stop Fundraiser on Aug. 19 to raise money to give the organization a good start. They raised $629.51, which will be used towards acquiring their tax ID, and the remainder will ensure that at least six dogs or cats will be spayed, neutered and vetted. The event filled the alley behind Dino's Lounge and attracted dog owners and supporters.
Several pooches took part in the doggie kissing booth, while some just spent the evening lounging about or sniffing out other dogs while their owners sipped adult beverages in the alleyway dining area.
Yvette Beausoleil is a Ferndale resident who understands the passion that goes into rescue work and animal care. She found her dog, Sir Silly, five years ago on a cold night wandering around the lawn of Ferndale High School.
"It was about 1:30 in the morning and my friend and I were coming home from an evening out when we saw this sad dog out in the cold. And you know, dogs pick you. He came over to the truck and looked up at me, turning his head back and forth because of all the hair that was shaggy over his eyes, and I knew. It was no thought about getting him into the truck," Beasoleil said.
She took the dog home to keep on the enclosed porch for the night, except that she and her friend were a little lively still from their night of drinking. So they brought the dog in the back yard and giggled over what to name him. The dog played along with them, happy to have found a home. And finally their laughter and goofy name contest got so loud that the Ferndale Police showed up saying a neighbor had complained.
"Everything about this dog and this night was so silly, that the name just stuck. We called him Sir Silly because of it," she said. The next day she called the City of Warren, where the dog's tag was registered, and she called the owner several times. It took three months for the owner to call her back, admitting that Sir Silly was supposed to have been training to be a hunting dog but he got away. He told her that he was "over it," and that she could keep him if she wanted. And she did.
"I know how much work and money it takes to care for animals, and how when you love an animal you'll sacrifice anything to care for it. That's why I love what Andrea and Rachel are doing, and why I came out to support," Beasoleil said.
To look for pets that are available, or to find out more about FFTC, check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheFerndaleFurTradingCompany.