Animal Rescue of the Week: Episode 27 – Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in North Carolina

Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, founded in 2007, is a non-profit organization located in Asheville, North Carolina. Their mission is to provide the resources and life-saving programs to build No-Kill communities. Brother Wolf goes the extra mile to provide the best care for all the animals they take in. The organization has strong community support which makes their programming possible.

For more information about Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, please visit their website or Facebook page!

“Welcome to the ARPA Animal Rescue of the week podcast, featuring outstanding organizations around the country that are helping animals and the people who rescue them. This podcast is proudly sponsored by  Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal rescue.

 The Brother Wolf Animal Rescue started in 2007 in the town of Asheville, North Carolina. Their mission is simple. To build and work towards a no-kill society. They recently introduced their mobile spay and neuter clinic, which offers low-cost services for dogs and cats throughout local communities. Along with this band of services, they offer vaccinations, microchipping, heartworm testing and much more. The Brother Wolf team has taken rescuing to the road and does not plan on stopping there.

 Hey, Leah, Welcome to the show. Hey, thanks so much for having me. Yeah, I’m really excited to have you. So you guys are Brother Wolf Animal Rescue located in North Carolina. I want to ask you to get us started with just a little bit of background about your organization and maybe how you came to join them. Yeah, absolutely. So we are located in Asheville, North Carolina. So we’re in the western North Carolina mountain area. And Brother Wolf Animal Rescue was founded in 2007. It came about because at that time, the county shelter was euthanizing a lot of animals that people felt like, you know, these are healthy, adoptable animals, like we have to do something to get them out. People rallied together, then created Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. And it started as many rescues do, as a foster-based rescue. And eventually they came to have a brick and mortar building. Then, you know, grew from there as far as programming. So we run a lot of programs now that we’ve been in existence for about 12 years. It all started because people wanted to make a difference and save the lives of the dogs and cats in our county shelter that were being euthanized. And we’re really extremely proud that our county is no-kill as a whole county.

 Now tell me a little bit about Asheville. I know what’s on the western side of North Carolina. Are you guys in a rural setting? Tell me a little bit about the community and the demographics and the kind of people that you guys serve as an organization. Asheville is kind of that unique bubble of this little metropolitan area, surrounded by lots and lots of rural communities. And we say that we’re in the Asheville bubble and we really are. We’re very different in the size and economic stature of the town that we live, in versus the communities that surround us. For animals, what that means is that North Carolina, as a state, is the top third, we’re #3 in the country, for the number of companion animals that we euthanize in our shelter system. So North Carolina has a lot of work to do. We are currently as a state, euthanizing about 66,000 animals a year. While yes, as a nation and, and even as a state, we have come a long way. We definitely, especially in North Carolina, have a lot of work to do. And out of the top 20, kind of, the worst-rated counties in North Carolina, as far as they’re kill rates in the shelter system, about half of those are in western North Carolina. So there’s a lot of need here. And while we do celebrate that our county is no-kill, you step right outside of our county and our surrounding counties, do not reflect at all. It’s really important to us to continue to support what’s the good work that has happened in our county in creating a no-kill community, but really to look at western North Carolina as a whole. Because there are so many healthy and adoptable animals that are still dying in the shelter system, just 30 minutes or an hour away from Asheville. While we’re very proud of our, what happened in the Asheville bubble, is sometimes and becomes clearly a bubble, and it’s important to spread out and have resources extend to places that are definitely more rural, and we see a lot of that in western North Carolina.

 Why do you think that is? Why do you guys think that you’ve been so successful within your county? And that’s surrounding counties like you said, that are just 30 minutes away from you are really still struggling? Are you guys partnering with those surrounding counties to understand what the challenges are and pull animals from them. Help me understand a little bit of that relationship with the counties in the western part of North Carolina. Absolutely so. One of the things that’s important to understand is like, why North Carolina, as a state, is the top three in the worst,  the number of euthanasia. The reason that is, really comes down to legislation, mostly. We have two laws that are still in place in North Carolina that a lot of other states have already changed, and they greatly impact the animals that are in need across the state. So the 1st one is the Veterinary Practice Act, and we still have that in North Carolina, which says that a rescue organization cannot set up a veterinary practice that helps animals that are publicly owned. We know that one of the main reasons that animals enter the shelter system across the country, is because people don’t have access to affordable veterinary care. And while many other states have been able to set up assistance for people who are struggling in that situation, we legally, in North Carolina are barred from doing so. That is a big contribution to why the numbers are so high in North Carolina. And the other law is that in North Carolina it is actually an illegal outcome to have a community cat return to the field. We all know that a community cat program just doesn’t work if you’re not returning community cats to field. So when you’re looking at the euthanization rate across the state of North Carolina and many other states, of course, it’s mostly cats. A lot of that is feral cats. And so it’s county shelters that are trapping the cats, bringing them into the shelter and their adult feral cats. And so they’re euthanizing them. Not surprisingly, the highest rate of the killing is feral adult cats. That is a big part of the problem. And really, changing that legislation is key to helping animals in North Carolina.

 And right now there are two bills that address both of those things, and they have been passed and are with the governor now. And so we’re all kind of eagerly anticipating that this.. Yeah. will go through. I think that a lot of programming will come out of that, for animals in North Carolina. I think that kind of looking at the state as a whole, and then when you’re talking about western North Carolina, most of the economic resources in North Carolina are centered in the middle of the state. We see, just overall, a greater need for human services and animal services in the eastern part of the state and western part of the state. Asheville is the biggest city in the western part of North Carolina. You know, we just naturally have more economic resources here, as a community. Whereas our region of the Appalachia has traditionally been one of the poorest areas in the entire country. This is again, you know, our Asheville bubble. where sure, we do have more resources in Asheville than our neighboring counties. The legislation, the lack of resources and something that many of us in the south base, is just the lack of education about spay and neuter.

 I definitely want to dive in and talk about some of these programs, so you guys are actually a rescue, but you kind of act as a shelter as well. You have an adoption center and some of the programs that you have are geared more towards the shelter side of things. And so why don’t you start us off by some of the programs that you guys actually have. And which one do you get most excited about? Sure, yes, there’s always a favorite. So, like I mentioned, Brother Wolf started off, as many do, as, you know, a small kind of foster based rescue organization and has grown over the years. And we still rely heavily on our foster homes, and there’s no way we could do what we do without them. So about 2/3 of our population, at any given time, lives in foster homes, and some of those are itty biddies who aren’t big and strong enough yet to be adopted. Some of those are animals with behavioral or medical needs, who are kind of working through something specific. And so they’re in foster homes for that reason. And then we do have a hospice program. So you know, kind of like that, the hospice program for animals. Actually we have about 45 animals right now in our hospice program, with wonderful people who you know, are willing to take on an animal and see them through to the end of their life and give them the best time. The best years of their life, in the very end, what they deserve. Our foster system is definitely a key component to what we accomplished for animals every year, and we actually impact about 10,000 animals a year in western North Carolina. About 2000 of that is through foster. And then we have about 3000 animals that go through our adoption center. And our adoption center is a place where the public come, and you know, what many people think of us as a shelter. So we have animals living there full time. We have a cat area and a dog area, and we also have on any given day, it seems like we always have a rabbit there too. They always pop in. You can’t forget them.You can forget about those guys, right? Everybody’s important.

 We’re really excited. Starting this year was the first time we’ve ever had a veterinarian on staff. So we have a medical area in our facility, as well. And it’s been a huge game changer for us because it’s so important to be able to learn from a vet and have staff that is working with a veterinarian every single day to give the best care possible to your animals. And it’s also just a huge impact on the number of animals you can serve because you can go so much farther with your resources. You have your vet on staff. She can do a surgery that would have cost us $3500 because we would have had to outsource that. And our in- house cost are more around $400, for a recent surgery that she did. So. She is an incredible resource, and that’s been a big game-changer for us this year. And so all of that happens in our adoption center in Asheville.

 We also have a transport program. We’re really proud of our transport program. We’re looking at having over 1500 animals transported north through our program this year. We’ve really grown that over the years by nurturing relationships with counties that surround us, as well, as our partners in the North. We have a incredible staff member who works on that full time. And it’s one of the ways we’re able to assist other counties in western North Carolina. They have highly placeable animals, and they just don’t have the staffing resources and the time to start a transport program and really expand in that area. So we are able to partner with them and take the animals that they are unable to get adopted out and send them north, where, you know, our northern partners are eager to have animals, and there’s adoptable homes just waiting for them. We’re really, really proud of that program. 

We also have a community cats program that we run and a pet retention program. And so we do everything we can to keep animals in their homes and out of the shelter system. So we have behavior staff that works with people, sometimes in person, but most of the time over the phone, to kind of problem- solve issues that people are having with their pets. And I mean so often, like for cats, for example, we get so many calls from people who say, you know, I need to give up my cat. She’s using the bathroom outside the litter box. That’s something that we hear a lot. They get fed up with it after a while and they decide I’m gonna have to give this pet up. We’re able to be a resource and kind of coach them through, you know, some solutions for that. And oftentimes we are able to successfully keep that animal in the home, by problem-solving with the family, to make it a good solution for everybody. That’s a really important program to us, because ultimately all of us want animals to stay in their homes. If they’re in a loving home, we want to do what we can to keep them in that loving home for the rest of their life.

The program that I get most excited about is our spay and neuter mobile clinic. This is a new thing to Brother Wolf. This was started in November of 2018 and so we haven’t even had it for a full year. But it has been wildly successful, already. It is provided to us through a partnership with Fighter Fixers. What that means is, that they provide us with the physical mobile clinic. We do have to outfit some of the inside of it, and then we rent it from them for like, a dollar a year. They’re wonderful to work with. Then we have metrics that we need to reach each month, and we’ve already, even in the first year, just blown those out of the water. We’ve been so excited to see that the community is just really embracing this program. And while it’s exciting that people want to help their animals, it’s also sad to see that this has been obviously an ongoing issue. Even with the resources that we already have in our community, there’s just not enough access to low-cost spay and neuter. It has been really important work for us this year to get the word out about that program. We can do up to 30 ish surgeries a day, depending on the size of the animals. In the mix of cats and dogs. And we travel to eight different counties, and that includes the county that we’re in. So we’re in our own county two days out of the week, and then we’re traveling to other counties the rest of the week. And so we’re able to not only serve our county, but to do that big picture, like look out into western North Carolina and say,. how can we really solve these problems, so that we keep these animals from just filling the shelter system?

 I guess staying on the, on the mobile spay and neuter clinic. The first question that came to mind is, how is that different? We talked about the legislation and the vet practice act. What’s the distinction right, between the two? Yes. So there is a distinction. Um, it’s kind of a legal loophole, you know, we’re very tightly holding on to. I bet. This is why us doing this is also just so amazing, because it isn’t common practice in North Carolina due to the laws that we discussed, to see things like this happening. It’s kind of this legal loophole that when we set up the clinic, the space in the clinic, like the actual clinics owned by Fighter Fixtures, we rent that grand. I’m sure the equipment was purchased by Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. But the clinic, in a essence of itself. Sure. Is legally owned by the veterinarian who works in that clinic. If you are a private veterinarian, you can provide medical care to publicly owned animals. Okay. And so because that veterinarian owns the essence of the clinic, all of the paperwork is under her. Got it. And so she is the loophole that makes it possible. And it is a tightrope walk that, you know, we’re on and it was up to the final moment of, like, getting that paperwork in the mail to be like, OK, are they actually gonna permit this? Because it’s in a gray area. And so we were so happy when we got that permit. And it’s something that we hope, as those laws change, this is something that other communities will feel comfortable taking on. Other organizations, especially organizations that have, you know, county contracts or city contracts, they just they, they usually can’t live in gray areas of the law.

I actually want to circle back and talk about the transport program, because that was one you were also really proud of. I want to talk a little bit about that, because I feel like the transport side of the animal welfare industry, is something that is so top of mind right now. And so it sounds like you guys have been doing that for a while. So I want to just take a few minutes and really ask the question of, when did you start that? What if maybe some of the challenges have been and what has that progression been like? Absolutely, yes, I was not with them at the beginning when they started that program, so I don’t have a lot of historical knowledge as the start of the program. But I can tell you about what’s key for us and just to give people, like, an idea to, you know, some people are extremely confused of why you would transport animals north. What we hear from our partners in the North, is that certainly there is a need to help animals up north. We know statistically that greater numbers of animals are dying in North Carolina than they are in, say, Connecticut or New York. There are bigger numbers of animals being euthanized here in the shelter system, and so getting those animals out on up north feels important to us. And what our partners in the North have feedback on is saying, yes, they have animals that are in need, and they are helping those animals in their own community. But what often happens is that there’s not enough diversity in the sheltering system up north.

 For example, you know, maybe a family comes in and they, you know, they have this idea, we all do. Like I mean, even myself. I always grew up with Australian shepherds. You know, it’s so here you’re drawn to like, the long hair, the multicolored, the floppy ears. You know, you, you kind of get ingrained in that. And we all have our favorite mutt’s that we, you know, are  just drawn to, different animals for all kinds of reasons. And they need diversity in the sheltering systems up north. And so what we’re able to do is say, these are the animals that, they are, they’re going to die in North Carolina because there’s not space for them. And so these are animals, you know, in our surrounding counties. I mean, I was just contacted a couple of days ago about thick Bloodhound dogs who, they’re 10 months old, and there is no reason that 6, 10-month-old Bloodhounds should be euthanized because they are adoptable. And even in our county, they’re highly adoptable and certainly like sending them on transport up north. There’s lots of homes that are looking for a 10-month-old. And so it’s, kind of is getting those animals up there of these adoptable homes up north, who are looking for certain things. So if there’s a family like, I really want, a around a one-year-old dog. You know, maybe they love Bloodhounds. I wanna Bloodhound. And so, making those matches that’s successful on both ends. And the important part is that that family makes a shelter dog match and doesn’t go to the shelter and say, Oh, well, you know there weren’t many animals there. We didn’t find one that was a good fit for our family. And so we went to buy a dog in North Carolina. Clearly, we have a lot of healthy, adoptable animals that are being euthanized, and it’s happening so much within an hour radius from where we are. We are able to look at, you know, the list of all the animals that are not gonna make it, and we’re able to take animals off of those lists.

We have this great system that we use. We post all of the animals that are available to our northern partners, and then they get on that electronic system and they’re able to see all the animals. Details and photos of the animals, and then they can all choose which ones that they are able to take. It’s a lot of work, and that’s why a lot of smaller organizations aren’t able to take it on. And I don’t think people realize how much work it is so. Right. So, not only is it organizational work. You really have to form these partnerships with your transport partners. It’s calling people. It’s just picking up the phone and saying like, you know, are you interested in taking animals from North Carolina? And that takes a long time to get started. And at first, you know, you might get someone who says, well, we can take four. Well, you can’t really drive all the way to Connecticut just for four animals. So then you have to find someone else on the way, or you have to find someone else who lives within, you know, 45 minutes of that rescue, and then they could take five. Then you have to have the vehicles. You have to have the equipment to put in those vehicles, the safe vehicles to transport them. We do our transports overnight. So we load everybody up around six o’clock, seven o’clock. The transport that went out this Monday, it was about 22 dogs. And once in a while, we do get cat transports. That’s kind of new for us, and we’re really, really excited to have some cat transport partners. We have a cat transport going out soon. That’s about 18 cats. It’s something that you just, it’s not a media. It takes a lot of time, its relationship building, its capacity, building its relationships with the shelters in your surrounding area. And a lot of education to help shelters understand like there’s a lot of requirements. That’s just the reality of the program. We have to vet check all those animals, and we take care of all that. And but some partners, you know they won’t take them until they’re spayed or neutered. So that’s another logistical thing, like we have to make sure that we get them in time so that it can be spayed or neutered. And then if you’re getting them that early so that they have to have surgery, what does that mean? Like, are you? Do you have room for them in your shelter, or can you put them in a foster home? And then where are they recovering and it’s a lot. It’s a lot. Yeah, it is a lot, but I think that’s part of what I was looking for in that it’s an easy idea. It’s the execution that is difficult because there are so many moving pieces.

 So I know you weren’t around when they first started the program. But is that really what they did? Is, they went to Google or they picked up the white pages and they literally just started calling organizations in the Northern States, to build those relationships? Or did you guys have relationships already in place and that you kind of reached out to them and then networked through introductions that way. What we do right now, is still make those calls. I wasn’t there when they started, but I can tell you that we still are making those calls.  We’re always looking for new partners and especially now with expanding to, you know, try to get cat transport partners. Therefore, I would think, especially in the ways that Brother Wolf has grown, has been very grassroots. It’s really those relationships. Whether you meet that person from an animal conference, maybe, or you know, you meet them because you pick up the phone. I mean, we’re still doing that. We’re still picking up the phone and calling people who we think are potential partners up North. There are a couple of places, you know, that are now adopting the Hub model. I think more people know about them like St Hubert’s. And because there are these big hubs and that’s what they do, they do transport. Other than that, it really just is about those relationships and forming those over the years.

What would you say to somebody who is looking at starting a transport program? Out of all the roadblocks that you even currently have today. What would be the one bit of information if somebody’s looking at starting a transport program, that you would give to them? I think having that key dedicated person is just so vital. I mean, the woman who runs our transfer program is phenomenal, and you have to be so detail-oriented, you have to go with the flow. You’re gonna have stuff that goes wrong all the time, and you’re gonna need to troubleshoot that, like on the fly. You’re gonna need to be good at creating relationships with people and sustaining those relationships. And sometimes that’s very hard because stuff happens, that’s difficult to work through. It’s emotional and it’s technical, with the animals. And so having that person that is just dedicated to making it happen. I just think for us that has been the biggest thing over the years and we’re incredibly blessed to have that person, who wants to make it happen and is so she’s learned so much over years. She didn’t come into the organization with that history. She built this out of out of nothing for us. It’s really been her over the years to put it all together. And, you know, she’s working with counties down here and partners up north. And our veterinarian. We always joke, like as soon as she puts an animal on the list for transport, that’s when they get adopted. Even if the animal’s been in the shelter for six months, as soon as they get on the transport list. So you make a list and you’re like, Okay, these are my transport animals and you’re doing that 5 to 7 days in advance because you have a lot to do in the next 5 to 7 days. Things happen. Maybe they break with a sickness or they do get adopted, even though they were supposed to be marked for transport and you weren’t supposed to adopt it off. So it’s a lot to manage. Really, that person she’s, she’s the key.

 Leah, one of my favorite parts in this entire conversation is memorable stories. I want to know one of your personal, memorable stories. But then you guys also have a really cool page on your website with your blog’s and stories that I want you to talk about as well. So let’s start with one of your favorite memorable stories. I think that our most memorable from the past six months as far as just I think is an incredible turnaround, is a puppy named Hope, and she was found in a trash bag in a trash can. And she had been discarded, and she was covered in, what appeared to be chemical burns and just a terrible cruelty case. She was this tiny little thing. She weighed less than 4lbs when we got her, in so much pain. I mean, she couldn’t even sit down because the chemicals had run down her chest and into her little butt area. And so it was just she couldn’t even comfortably sit. We put her on pain medicine immediately, and she was under 24-hour care from our veterinarian. Our veterinarian was amazing and actually took her home every single night. And she went through several surgeries to remove necrotic tissue. You know, we see this all the time, but what’s still just amazing is, that animals have not lost their ability to trust and to love. And she just never gave up, even though she was so tiny and had been treated so terribly by someone. We received support from all over the world for her. It was incredible like people just are so appalled by cruelty to animals. Especially, I think it just hit people really hard, because it was just like such an innocent little puppy. She’s so small, and for someone to be so cruel to her and to just abandon her, was so heartbreaking to so many people. And I mean, we received gifts for her, like we got mail for months that was addressed to Hope at our location. And we received like, prayer blankets that they said, like 45 people got together and prayed over this blanket and we want Hope to have the blanket. It’s just an incredible story about the resilience of animals, and it makes me tear up. Yeah.

Oh, she’s just, you know, and now she’s fully healed. She was adopted by a wonderful person and he is obsessed with her. That’s how it should be. Yeah, and she has, you know, her favorite pink bed. But she’s a small dog, so you know, she was a tiny puppy. She has a German shepherd who is her new brother, and she loves him and he’s over 100 lbs. Sure, it’s always those weird connections, right? There’s something to be said about complete opposites. They’re just the cutest. Yeah, of course, this tiny little pup,  and 100lbs German shepherd. And so you so many people came together to help Hope. That to me is what keeps us going day to day. Like we’re here to help animals in need. And that could be extremely emotional. And as all of us in this industry know, it is not a 40 hour week. No, no. Is it going to be, like, a tough job? But then to see, like the outpouring of love that comes in from people, I mean, most people want animals to be in healthy, loving homes, and they want the right thing to happen for these animals. There’s just such a support system locally. And I mean, we saw it internationally, like it’s just amazing to see people from Germany and Australia like, commenting on her posts online. And we gave updates, like video updates and heard people just want it to stay up to date with her recovery process and see how she was doing. And we got donations from all over the world, of people just saying, you know, I want to help Hope. Like what happened to her is terrible and she didn’t deserve that. And we all have to come together to support her. And so she was definitely one of those cases, it’s kind of an extreme version of what animal rescue does. But that is what animal rescue does, and um, we’re so glad that she’s in the best home ever. Yeah, I tried. I try not to dwell on the bad things and how Hope was put in that situation and focus more on the outcome in the happy life that she’s got. It definitely pulls at your heartstrings. It does, I mean, every single one of them. And those partnerships are so critical with your community, your fosters, your volunteers, your donors. I mean, we couldn’t do anything without all those people, like every single day. All of the work that we do is only made possible because people support us. That is also just incredibly emotional and full of gratitude and love. Because we run on individual donations. We do not exist without individual donations. And so people stepping up and saying, like, I care enough to help animals in need that I’m gonna get behind you on this, is just incredible. And to see that in such a massive way with Hope, was just really inspiring.

 Yes. So let’s take a few minutes and kind of talk about that community and that. And the support that you get from them and the fundraising that you guys do. Take a few minutes and tell us, do you guys do several events throughout the year? How can people donate to you? We are mostly funded by individual donations. We are about a $3 million a year organization. A small minority of that is grant-funded and then, you know some of it is programmatically funded. So, for example, like our spay and neuter clinic, what’s so great about that program, too, is that it’s self-sustaining. And by charging a very low fee for spay and neuter, it allows that program to continue on. And it’s not that, that is, it’s not generating revenue that you, you know, count on in any way. But it’s sustaining itself and does have to count on it to sustain itself. But yes, it’s mostly, private donations from caring individuals. We do two events a year. I know that when we start talking about fundraising, a lot of people go immediately to events. And I think that comes out of people see publicly facing fundraising the most, and that’s what you see in your community. And, and if you haven’t done a lot of fundraising, you kind of think of events first, where we know that nationally, they have the least return on investment. I am always a component of like, talking to rescue organizations about please take a hard look at the data from your event. You need to be tracking every single expense, and you need to include stop time and I know no one wants to do that. But you need to do it. Yes. That’s a big, it’s a big piece. Yeah. You need to really look at all the costs that go into those events and you need to track the time and look at what else, you know, you could do with that time. I’m not saying that events are bad. I just think that they’re overdone and that they are all-encompassing.

 So at Brother Wolf, because it’s very, built as a grassroots organization, you know, I think when you’re a smaller organization, you do a lot of events and some of them work out for you and you, you just keep doing them. But maybe you forget to grow other areas of fundraising. And, you know, major donor gifts are what you really need to focus your time on. And we have learned that lesson and are spending a lot of time now, you know, really focusing on your major donors and it’s that relationship building with people, you know. People want to be a part of what you’re doing, and if you are asking them in a meaningful way, letting them give money to something that really impacts them. And then you are reporting. You need to follow up with that donor and show them the great picture of the dog that you just rescued, that they knew they made it possible. Or the kittens that you just got off of the streets because of their funds. And thank you. Thank you, thank you. Report, report, report. You like, you will build those donor relationships. And so, we do two events here. We do two events, And I would encourage people to focus on, you know, like, what’s a mission-centered event that really makes sense for your organization. For us, what that means is we used to have this event that was a Halloween event. It was so cute. All the animals would come in costume and the whole family would be dressed in costume. And we have this giant red carpet that we roll out. And we like play music, and they have a costume contest, and they all get to walk down the red carpet and show off their creations. And past that point, it becomes kind of like a traditional walkathon. And so they do fundraising. And, you know, we have a walk a thon with the dogs. And we keep that event because it is very mission-centric. You show up and you see hundreds of people with their rescue animals, and it is just a manifestation of all the work that rescue does. And seeing like all that joy. And we used to do it in October, we’re actually moving it to April, starting in 2020. And it’s gonna have a superhero theme because at the end of April is, there’s a national superhero day and so. Nice. Yeah, we’re gonna keep the costume component, but change it to superheroes.

We also have a more traditional event, kind of like a higher-end dinner with a lower number of people and some auction items. Not too many, a live auction, you know, kind of that component. But even at those events, I know people feel more comfortable sometimes going out. And even though it’s a lot of work, it’s like, Okay, I can feel comfortable in my zone of soliciting an auction item, preparing a bid sheet. Like, this feels comfortable to me, and I’ve still encouraged people even at those events, really pay attention to the live auction. And having that moment in the live auction where you’re asking for donations and really making like a case for support and telling a moving story and, and getting someone who’s really skilled too. And an auctioneer who knows how to get people to start raising their paddles to say, like, Here’s $5000. Here’s $1000. Here’s $10,000. Like whatever it is because people want to help animals. And if you spend the time talking to them about what you do, you are doing incredible work that they want to be a part of. And while I know that it makes some people very uncomfortable to ask for money, you are asking for money so that you too can do incredible things. And that person, your donor, is being so uplifted by that. like you are fulfilling this need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. To work in an area that they care about, that maybe they’re not able to actually do the work like we are. But that’s the way that they could be a part of it. For us moving forward, lots of focus on those relationships because that is what most greatly benefits the people who you interact with the animals that you serve. 

Yeah, it’s a reminder that we need to step outside of that comfort zone. Obviously, like you said, money is not an easy topic to talk about in any area of our lives. But you are doing the work for the animals and you know, your potential donors. That’s what they’re interested in. You want to break. You want to tell them what you’re gonna do. You want to talk to him about your plans, and you need to get them on board. So that’s what those events and those conversations and opportunities should be used for. I agree. So you’re not saying events are bad. You’re saying they should be focused, right? Just to be clear for everybody, events are not bad. We’re just saying that maybe focus them versus six or eight a year, bring it down to one or two and make that donation conversation part of every interaction that you have.

 So before we wrap things up, I want to talk about what the future looks like for you guys. Do you have any plans coming up? Anything that’s on your plate that you need help from the community on. Anything like that coming up for you guys? Well, a big thing with Brother Wolf this year is I’ve worked for the organization in the past and then came back recently in February, as the new executive director. And we are facing a big turn around right now, and that’s exciting and also just a ton of work. And if you, if you look at our website and our recent press, we’re being completely transparent with everyone and saying, you know, this organization took on too much too fast and that happens, right? Like we see that all the time in the nonprofit world, they expanded what they wanted to do, which is great. But they didn’t have the solid business foundation to do all of those expansions. And so over the past few years, the organization has slipped into financial distress. And what we’re doing right now is saying, you know, we have these incredible programs and they’re doing amazing things for animals in this community. We are doing things that are not duplicated by other organizations, so they would be a huge loss to this area, if they didn’t exist anymore. Okay. And really educating the public about what we need to continue on. And so we are putting those sound business practices in place. We’re building a board that has great oversight and lots of support for us as an organization. And just getting those business practices in place because we’re nonprofit. But we’re a non-profit that needs to run like a business, in order to be sustainable and successful for the incredibly impactful programs. For Brother Wolf, this year is all about sustainability, and it is all about making sure that every resource we have we’re using in the best way possible. That we’re fully focused on our mission in every single decision that we make. And just, moving forward with best practices in place so that we can be stronger in the future. So we are excited about that, and we’re telling, you know, this story to people about the impact that we have in western North Carolina, and with North Carolina being one of the top states for the Organization of Shelter Animals, it’s just so critical to have these resources. And we’ve been extremely happy to see so many people, you know coming in support of that, and really rallying behind Brother Wolf and supporting the animals who we care for. I love that you guys have the transparency that you have, even if just recently, with the position that you’re in financially. With what your goals are, with what you’re asking for, you know the support from the community. I think it’s really, really important for organizations to be transparent. Absolutely, yes. And people appreciate being a part of that conversation. They care so much, that they are so invested in what you’re doing, you know, and they, they’re a part of this. I mean, I know I keep saying this, but I feel so strongly about our donors and our volunteers and our fosters because none of this is possible without them. And it’s really them who were building up this organization with all our staff. 

Well, Leah, I have definitely enjoyed my time with you. I’m sad to see it end. Is there anything else that we missed that maybe you want to share? I think you know if people want to see what we’re doing, we’re actually getting a new website soon, so let’s go on our website. It’s BWAR. So it’s the acronym for Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, Like you mentioned, we post a story every single week, so that people can read just like very joyful stories about what’s happening at Brother Wolf and the impactful programs that we run. And we definitely receive support from all over the country, because North Carolina is so critical for animals right now, and so we appreciate all of that and hope people will join in. Yeah, absolutely. And we’ll be able to link that as well when we post on the web site, so we’ll make sure it’s nice and easy for people to get to you. This has been wonderful chatting with you. Thank you so much. Thank you, Leah. 

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