Animal Rescue of the Week: Episode 40 – Karumel Animal Rescue

Located in the Heart of the Bluegrass, Karumel Animal Rescue provides a safe haven for abandoned and unwanted animals, providing them with the care they need and deserve and educating the public on responsible pet ownership and adoption.


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.

Karumel Farm Animal Rescue, founded in 2014 is located in the heart of the Bluegrass. They make it their mission to provide a safe haven for abandoned and unwanted animals while showing them the care and love they need and deserve. The staff also goes the extra mile to try and educate the public about responsible pet ownership as well as the importance of adoption.

Hey, Jenny, welcome to the show. Hi. So you are with Karumel Animal Rescue in Idaho? Yes. And why don’t you get us started and just tell us a little bit about your organization? So the organization was founded by Kathy Gonzalez, and we actually originated in Lexington, Kentucky, right outside of Lexington, Kentucky. Nicholasville, to be exact, but most people don’t know of that town. It’s pretty small.

So we met there and we’re both animal lovers and we both work in health care. She’s a nurse and I’m not an occupational therapist. And so we decided to team up together to start a 501(c)3, make it official and get the taxes and all of the paperwork set up. And then we kind of just went from there. We mostly ran it out of her. She has a small little 10-acre farm in Kentucky way. We had all kinds of animals, mostly dogs and cats. But we also rescued a few horses and goats along, uh, several bunnies.

So yep, that’s kind of how we started and then just kind of branched out from there. And then Originally, I’m from Boise, Idaho. And so I decided to move back about a year and 1/2 ago. And so, I continued the rescue. Also here at a Boise, we’ve had to transport some animals all the way from Kentucky, and then I’ve transferred animals from other states as well to Boise and then Kathy, still running is her rescue the Karumel Farm Animal Rescue out of Nicholasville, Kentucky. Okay, so do you have dogs and cats and then the farm animals as well, where you are now? No, I just do the dogs and cats because I don’t have a farm. Yeah, that makes sense. But I mean, I’d love to have a farm, but–and maybe someday, but right now I don’t. Okay, cool.

So what’s the community like in your area? in the Boise area? Yes or both. So there’s two interesting things that I’d like to point out Kentucky versus Idaho. So Kentucky, unfortunately, has the most animal abuse cases out of any state in the United States, and the reason with that is probably because they pretty much don’t have any laws, too. Really protect animals from abuse or neglect. Oh wow, I did not know that. And it could be a cultural thing, too. It’s hard to say, but because of that, there has been a lot of need basically in Kentucky because of the lack of protections for animals. And then a lot of people just kind of leave their dogs tied out on chains. You know, it’s the old school way, not really any shelter. They don’t really see them as an inside pet, so they just stay outside and all, whether it’s freezing cold and things like that. It is changing. It’s progressing, and they are trying to strengthen animal right laws there.

There’s some really poor counties outside of the bigger cities of Lexington and Louisville that are really underfunded for their shelters. And because of that, for example, the one shelter that we teamed up with and worked a lot with and still do help a lot is Lincoln County Animal Shelter in Stanford, Kentucky. It’s near Nicholasville in Central Kentucky, and they have a small shelter there. That was built all through donations, but because they don’t actually get hardly any money, and from the county they have to feed the dogs, and everything that has to do with the dogs and cats is raised with fundraising, and they have two employees, but they don’t know how to use computers. They don’t have the computer, so none of the animals are advertised. And so it used to be not long ago that 90% of all the cats and dogs were put down and they used to do it by gas, and luckily that’s changed, and now it’s more humane euthanization.

But a group of volunteers came together that live in the area, and they decided to spend their own money and time going over to the shelter every day and taking photos of the dogs and cats and making a Facebook page, which is called Volunteers of Lincoln County Animal Shelter. And they are really good about posting any animals that come in and then trying to adopt them out. So they went from very much being 90% of all animals not getting adopted out and being put down to. Now 90% of them are adopted up, and it’s only because of those volunteers and they’re not paid.

Wow, that’s amazing to have such a transition, you know, from such a negative statistic to the complete opposite. That’s amazing. Well, yeah, I mean, just imagine having this little shelter literally in the middle of nowhere and they’re not advertising at all, and their hours are terrible. They’re only open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Most people are working during those hours. Right. and then they’re not open on Sunday and then on Saturday, they’re only open from 10 to 12 which is–. Oh wow. So it’s like they’re hardly ever open, they never answer the phone. The chances of any of those animals ever getting adopted was pretty much slim to none.

What do you think could help combat these issues? Do you think it’s more volunteers helping that shelter, getting more education resources and recognition about what’s going on? Like, what do you think would help? Well, one thing that would really help the shelters in Kentucky is that the local counties actually provided more funding for them. They actually would have that on staff. You know, that would help. At the very least, give shots and, you know, do you deworm them, or if they were sick, they could take care of it. Hire staff that is educated and willing to advertise for the animals by setting up a Website or, you know, using different social media to try to get the animals adopted out. And then, obviously the laws need to strengthen. The number one thing that should be in place for every state is if you’re committed and found guilty of animal abuse, you should not be allowed to ever own animal ever again. Because the chances are you’re just gonna be a repeat offender. Right, definitely. So that’s what it’s like in Kentucky.

How would you describe the community that you’re in in Idaho? The similarities that Idaho and Kentucky have is, we do have some really poor areas as well, and because of that you have a lot of, let’s say, stray cats that were never spayed or neutered, which I know is a problem everywhere. But we don’t have as many low cost spay and neuter programs as some communities. For example in Florida, I was living in Florida for a little bit, and I noticed they had tons of low cost spay and neuter facilities that you could take your pet to throughout different areas of Florida. And, you know, Idaho there really is a lack of low spay and neuter. And then, just like affordable vetting overall. So what are some of the programs that you guys offer? The main thing that we try to do is team up with shelters that are overcrowded, and they have animals that are at risk for being euthanized because they are overcrowded. So we try to take those animals in and then adopt them out.

So how do you first hear about an animal that you need to take? Do you email with another shelter and they’re like, “Hey, we have this dog and we need a place to put them. Can you take them?” Or how does that process kind of work? Most of it’s all actually been through Facebook. I’ll add different shelters that have set up like Facebook Pages. And then I’ll see them advertising. “Hey, you know, we’re really overcrowded at this time. You really need to get some of these dogs or cats out.” And then I’ll contact them and say, “Hey, we’re a 501(c)3 a rescue. We have room to take in a dog or a cat.” And then usually there’s some paperwork that they want us to fill out.

And you know it’s a challenge because there have been some bad rescues in the past, you know, some bad apples. And so I have noticed that some shelters are kind of wary of people that they don’t know, and they don’t know if you actually are a rescue or if you’re just saying that. So it’s like you have to build trust with the shelters, the people who are running them or the people who are volunteering for them. And then you kind of build this network of trust. And then once you have that set in place, it’s pretty easy after that, where they’ll actually just contact you and be like, “Hey, can you take this animal in?” And then we can say yes or no and then try to either set up transportation or we just go get the animal ourselves.

Those communities are so important, and everyone has that seem common goal of saving as many animals as possible. So those relationships are so important. Do you have a lot of volunteers that help you then? Because it sounds like it’s a lot of the community coming together and helping each other as far as with our rescue. No, we don’t really have volunteers. We’ve had like, a couple of people that have helped us with little things here and there, but not consistently. It’s mostly just been me and Kathy. Are you looking to grow your volunteer base? Our biggest challenge. I would say it was transportation. So for example, you have certain states that have more overcrowding than other states, and one nice thing about Boise that’s unique. I feel like compared to the rest United States is it’s a very, very dog friendly city. Almost everybody has a dog. It’s really outdoorsy. And because of that, the shelters here, your main shelter is the Idaho Humane Society for Boise. And then we’ve got some other shelters in other cities outside of Boise, and they pretty much stay consistently only halfway full because the turnovers for dogs is so quickly and they don’t have to euthanize any of them. The only ones that they do is just if they’re too aggressive or they’re too sick, it’s often because they don’t even really have to advertise. They just have so many people willing to come in and adopt. And it’s expensive, too. I mean, the adoptions for the Humane Society is close to $300, and people are willing to pay that. Of course, that includes spay and neuter and their shots. Sure. And they have a vet on staff. So any dogs that comes in, they have their own bedding. So right away they’ll get their shots, you know, if they’re sick, they’ll take care of it, or if they need to get spayed or neutered. As far as, the community goes when it comes to dogs, it’s just phenomenal. And if there was some way I could figure out a better transportation system, I could probably save, you know, a dog a week. Right. If I could get them here and that’s the problem though, like I got shipped in three dogs from Kentucky. So there’s certain states that actually want dogs versus other states that have too many dogs. And so if we could just figure out how to transport these dogs getting from place to place, I mean, you could probably get rid of having to euthanize dogs.

What is the adoption process look like for you guys? I try to not make it complicated. I know some people really like doing home visits and things like that, but I usually try to do just a low-cost fee that doesn’t even really cover all the bedding, such as getting them spayed and neutered just to make it affordable. We do have that reference and then we also just like to have a personal reference. There has been a few times where we’ll get people that have never had a pet before, and I don’t want to discriminate against someone just because they haven’t had a pet before. So in those situations, then we just try to do personal preferences.

So I know you said that you use Facebook a lot. Do you post like the animals that are up for adoption on your Facebook, or is it just walk-ins? Like, how do people see your animals? Yes, so you post on our Facebook page Karumel Farm Animal Rescue and then also we post on Craigslist. You know, some people don’t trust Craigslist, but if you’re doing a adoption fee and then you’re also asking for references, you can usually weed out anyone that doesn’t have any good intentions. Yeah, that makes sense. Because, you know, I feel like most people if they’re going to pay for a dog or a cat, they have to have references. They’re pretty serious about it. Yes, for sure.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of news about people offering free pets on Craigslist, and there’s still a lot of dog fighting going on. They use kittens and puppies, obviously that are free as bait for dog fighting. And so we definitely discourage anyone giving a free pet on Craigslist. Or it could be they could be used for abuse. Right.

So do you have any, like, educational tools, or do you try to educate the public on things like that? On our Facebook page, we’ve posted things like that. When I see anything that’s animal related that I feel is relevant to helping animals, then yes I’ll post it. I think that education piece is so huge. They’re so many different topics and issues that people need to be aware of.

So does your rescue put on any events or fundraising events? We’ve only done a couple. I haven’t done any in Boise. We did a few in Kentucky. For example, we got 10 puppies, and we had a mom, and she had a litter of 10. And PetSmart was doing a big fundraiser for rescues, where you could bring in a few pets that were available for adoption and then set your own little booth. So we did that, but that’s pretty much it for us, as far setting up a fundraiser.

Okay, is that something that you guys want to do more of in the future? Yeah, actually, so have teamed up with Garden City Community Cat Project, and they’re an interesting group. So Garden City has a little city within a city, so Garden City is completely surrounded by Boise, and it’s only about five miles long. The problem with Garden City is they don’t have their own shelter, and they were teaming up with the Idaho Humane Society, which is the shelter for Boise. But the shelter increased their fees, and Garden City decided that they would no longer have a contract with them because they can’t afford the fees. So we no longer have a shelter or anyone to take our cats, for example.

There is a small group here that’s taking in any stray dogs to try to find where their homes are, they have to adopt them out. But all the cats now are seen as feral cats, even though obviously, most of the cats within the city are probably pet cats that either got lost or people are just putting outside. And so it’s become a real issue because now we have all these stray cats and we want to do something about it and help them but there’s no shelter to take them to, that’s willing to spay and neuter them for us.

So that partnership that you have are you saying that they can’t take those cats anymore? or you will take your cats to them now? So the Garden City Community Cat Project started because of the situation. So because there’s no shelter, a lady Austin and Kathy started the Garden City Community Cat project. And so I have been teaming up with her, and we actually have one of the cats, right now that was just caught two days ago, and unfortunately, they weren’t able to get her kittens. They’re still trying to catch them. So we’re gonna get her fixed on Saturday and then hopefully adopted out. It’s just sad because we’ve had people in the community that have found cats that you know, came up to their door or they’re stray cats that were abandoned, and they’ll call the Idaho Humane Society and they won’t take them. So you either have to lie and say you found them in Boise or you literally just have nowhere to take him.

And then it’s an issue for rescues like me and the Garden City Community Cat Project. Because, you know, we’re trying to find low cost spay and neuter programs. And if the shelter is no longer teamed with the Garden City, they can say, “well, we’re not gonna offer low cost spay and neuter because you’re not in our city. You’re in Garden City, and we’re no longer affiliated with them.” So it’s wrong. Yeah. That poses a huge challenge. Yeah. I think that goes back to again, those relationships with different, you know, shelters and rescues. Everyone has to come together to help each other. Yeah, and so they were talking about trying to do a fundraiser at the, you know, one of the pet stores here. And so that’s kind of what made me think of that too, about trying to do a fundraiser. It sounds like you have a, like, a pretty supportive community as well. So I feel like a fundraiser could definitely help with those kinds of challenges. Yeah, or it could just be great to be able to find a vet that would be willing to help us since, you know, we don’t really have a shelter. You know, we take these cats too. Right, yeah, definitely. Just like spreading the word and seeing who shows up. Definitely.

What does the future look like for your organization? Do you have any, like, upcoming plans? We kinda talked about a potential event. But do you have any upcoming programs that people should know about? No, just the main thing. The most recent program has just been teaming up with the Garden City Community Cat Project. They obviously only do cats. As far as with dogs, I’m still focused on trying to get dogs from overpopulated shelters which would be outside of Idaho and then getting them transported here. Okay, great.

So as we’re wrapping up, do you have any memorable stories that you would like to share? It could be about an animal, a volunteer that you’ve worked with, just something that you’re really proud of and that kind of reminds you why you do what you do. Well, I mean, we have lots of good stories, and each animal has brought its own unique situation one of the most emotional ones that was for me and then I was so happy that we’re able to save him because he just turned out to be the best cat ever. We named him Hoover, which I know it’s a silly name, but we were evolved in animal abuse case with horses. It was just an awful situation. And that’s how I learned so much about the lack of laws in Kentucky, because of this case. And, you know, of course after it’s a year and 1/2 of trying to fight for these horses, the guy walked away. You know, just the slap on the wrist with a misdemeanor and only had to pay $500 but the things he did was atrocious. And it wasn’t just for the horses. It was also to the dogs that he had.

But in that situation, we were going to this abandoned barn where these horses were and when I was in this abandoned barn at night trying to give them food and water because they weren’t even supposed to be there, it was an abandoned barn that they didn’t own. And it was falling down. It was really dangerous. So we went there, give them food and water. And all of a sudden I felt something rubbing against my leg, and I look down and it’s this large, completely grey cat. So I started petting him and as soon as I pet him, I could tell he was skin and bones. I have never touched an animal that literally had no ounce of fat. I mean, nothing. I don’t even know how it was that he was alive.

So right away I picked him up. Then we took him back to the farm, which wasn’t far away, over to Kathy’s house. And you could feel every rib on is body, hadn’t eaten in a long time. And then we realized that he had been declawed. So someone took this poor cat who was declawed and threw him out in this abandoned barn that was in the middle of nowhere. He clearly was not just a lost cat like somebody obviously dumped that cat. And he couldn’t defend for himself. He couldn’t catch anything. Right, he has no claws. Yeah, he had no claws and so he was starving to death. And then on top of that, the few meals that he could probably have was, you know, dead animals. And so he’s completely infested with worms in.

And so we took him to the vet and the vet had never seen a cat so infested with tapeworms. And so it took us a really long time to get rid of the worms and then get him back to health. And he made a complete rebound in just the most beautiful cat you would ever see. He was one of those great Russians that people actually pay a lot of money for their–I could never say the word hypo–. Like hypo allergenic or something? Yeah. So people pay a lot of money for them as kittens because, you know, if you have allergies. And he was just the best cat, and the reason we called them Hoover is because he was, like, a vacuum cleaner with his food. When we first got him he was like, well, it he wouldn’t even chew it. He would just, like, suck it up. And he was so hungry. And we found a really nice couple that ended up adopting him. And the whole time we told them, I think I probably told them five times that if for whatever reason, I don’t even care what it is, if it doesn’t work out, please just bring him back. Like we love Hoover. He was my favorite cat, so, yes.

I love hearing those stories, you know, from animals that go from these horrible situations. And like you said, you wonder how they’re even living because they’re in such a bad state. And then you take them in and you give him the love and the care that they need. And you see their amazing personalities and how great they really are. Yeah, and I just cannot believe that somebody would take a pure bred cat like that. That was declawed and just abandon him. I mean, it could have been a situation that may be an elderly person had him and then passed away. And then, you know, someone just dumped him. You never know what the past is. Right. But he saw us and he knew that we would help him. Like he came to me asking for help, you know? Yeah. ‘Cause I would have never saw him because it was dark. Definitely. Oh, I love his name too Hoover. Yeah. That’s so cute. Yeah.

Well, how can people get in touch with your organization if they want to adopt or just find out more about you? What’s the best way to get in contact? To make it less confusing is now that we’re in two locations, which I know is a little odd, but it seems to work. So if you are in the Kentucky area and you would like to help or wanna adopt, I would go on to Facebook and its Karumel Farm Animal Rescue page and Karumel is K-A-R-U-M-E-L. And then I didn’t want to confuse Boise people. So I set up a Facebook page called Boise Animal Rescue. And so any animal that you might be interested in adopting or wanting to help go to Boise Animal Rescue page on Facebook. Perfect.

Well, is there anything else that you would like to share with us before we wrap things up today? Just that if you are interested in helping animals there so many different ways that you can help. Ot doesn’t have to just be donations or adopting. Every rescue and every shelter is always looking for people to foster. And then we always need help with transportation. So if you’re ever willing to help with transportation. And then you know, if you can’t donate money, you could always donate either cat food or dog food. Help pay for vetting, you know, anything like that. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Jenny. I really appreciate your time. Yeah. Thank you so much.

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