Pug Pals Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and placing Pugs in “forever homes” primarily in Boise and the Treasure Valley, but extending to the Pacific Northwest. They are an organization completely run by volunteers and all Pugs are placed in foster homes until loving forever homes can be found. They rescue all Pugs regardless of medical needs and do their best to provide for them within limited resources.
Welcome to the ARPA Animal Rescue of the week podcast, featuring outstanding organizations around the country that are helping animals & the people who rescue them. This podcast is proudly sponsored by Doobert.com. Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues & shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal rescue.
Hey, Christa, welcome to the show. Hello. How are you? I’m really good. Good. Well, I’m really excited to have you today. You are with Pug Pals, and I believe that’s in Boise, Idaho, right? Correct. Yes. So why don’t you kick us off and tell us a little bit about what Pug Pals does and what your mission is. Pug Pals was established, kind of on the fly. We have pug meet ups here in Boise. There are many of them here, and we found that over time people would show up and they would just leave their pugs and meet up would get over and there’d be extra dogs and no people, and they wanted to re home them. But they didn’t want to say anything, and I guess they at least picked a safe environment to do it. So Pug Pals evolved out of that and was started by Dianne and Suzanne on that. And so they formed a charitable organization and set up the rescue so that we could expand that and get the word out that we’re here for that purpose if you need to re home a pug or whatever reason, no questions asked. No judgment on our part. We’ll take them in, make sure they’re healthy and find him a great new home. Wow. So Pump house came from necessity, with dogs being left behind. That’s hard to imagine. It is hard to imagine, and it’s always hard. People always say, I don’t know how you’re not angry all the time that people do this with their animals. But we really just focus on the animal and making sure their life is better going forward. And everyone has their reason. A lot of people feel like they have to lie to us about the reason and we really don’t care. We just take him in and find him a good home, no questions asked. That’s definitely an interesting way to look at things right. I think in the past, in the groups that I’ve talked with, one of the things that I’ve seen become a focus is trying not to be judgmental. When somebody walks into your rescuer, your shelter and they need to surrender an animal. I think it’s human nature to judge, to ask the question in to assume that they’re not good people, and what you guys are doing is just that right? You’re saying we don’t care what the reason is. We understand that things happen. Life happens and we want the best for the animals. I like that approach. It’s not an easy one, but I like that. That’s a focus for you guys. Yeah, and I think it really has to be because I think if you live in that place of judgment and anger, you just wouldn’t stay in it for very long. You wouldn’t be able to focus on doing the right things. It’s definitely exhausting, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s the emotional drain, for sure, because you’re taking on all these problems that you can’t fix. You take on one problem that you can fix and finding that animal a better life. That’s a problem that is achievable. You can’t fix why people need to re home and that it consumes you. Remind me again, when Dianne and Suzanne founded Pug Pals, it was just trying to remember that I was actually looking at the website to see if it would remind me. And I think I want to say it was around 2008. So about 10 years or so, Yeah, Obviously it was because pugs were being left behind. Do you know the back story with Dianne and Suzanne? Did they have a soft spot for pugs? Did they add They both had pugs. Dianne had five. Suzanne had three. Okay, That’s why they had started these meet ups at the park to meet with other people that had pugs. They’re just a very popular breed. Their funny little dogs. Yeah, people love. So we have made ups on the weekends and they’ll be anywhere from 50 to 100. You know that show up. I think that’s a really cool thing. And I love that. That was the reason that Pug Pals got started is because they were putting these meet ups together. It’s a little bit of a turn in how the organization was created. I want to jump in right away to a little bit more about your community. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about what Boise’s like and what you guys air scene in the community? Regarding pugs in general, Boise is growing very rapidly. It was always more of a laid back kind of small town, but we have probably tripled her size in the last few years, and it’s still going. And so the number of people that were able to draw upon but also the number of pugs that we get has increased a great deal, and we’ve expanded our area out into Utah all over Idaho, Washington, even a little into Wyoming. We work a lot with Wyoming Pug Rescue as well. In those areas, we team up a lot and send pugs back and forth. That we may have homes for our reach has grown a lot. And that’s helped the pug Rescue and Utah shut down the woman who was running that had health issues and we knew her well. And so we kind of took on her role in Utah as well. In general, Boise has really grown, and you had mentioned that pugs also that you’re seeing more and more pugs. Why is that? Is that a spay neuter thing? You know? Are you transferring animals from other states? I honestly, I think it’s just a knowledge that rescue exists. I think it’s just getting the word out that were there. And so now we work with a lot of the shelters as well. If they get a pug in that has health issues, that they can’t help or they’re a senior, any kind of special need, why they just call us and we take those on. And so I think just having the word out and the cooperation with shelters and stuff has done that for us. I’m not sure that there’s really, actually anymore, although I would expect there to be more is there’s more people to some degree, sure, but I think a lot of it is just being out in the community and people becoming aware that rescue exists and working with shelters on a continual basis and building their confidence in us. What I really like is that you’re working with a lot of different states and continuing to get the word out. And I’m such a big fan of relationship building and working together and not putting barriers up, not silo ing ourselves from other organizations. Just in the first few minutes of talking with you, I’m just really impressed that the reach that you’ve had since you guys started, I just think that’s really cool. And I just want to say congratulations for that cause it’s not an easy thing to d’oh. No, it’s definitely not and, you know, we try really hard. You have toe sometimes work pretty hard on those relationships and were pretty careful about who’s out in the community contacting people and the voice that we’re putting out there because we don’t want to do anything that breaks down those relationships either. One of the things that you mentioned is that you guys work with these other groups and you’re exchanging or you’re moving pugs around, and I want to know how that kind of came about and how you guys are doing that. And why are you moving animals from one organization to the other or swapping animals? What’s the reason for that? The biggest reason. It a ball pretty organically without Wyoming Pug Rescue. Because Danny used to work with us on placing pugs and then Wyoming’s out there. They’re a little more remote. They’re kind of in their own spot out there. And so she decided to start her own rescue as well. And so we’ve just worked tandem Lee together. If she hasn’t approved a doctor that’s looking for a pug that we have, and she can place them in a home right away, then we’ll send him her direction and vice versa. And so it’s just been a really symbiotic relationship that’s really good for both the pugs and potential adopters. So are you looking at their animals online and they’re looking at your animals online, and then you’re finding adopters that we are you exchanging or swapping dogs before you have an adapter. It’s usually actually just messenger conversations, to be honest. And she might have, ah, little bit harder to place dog that she’ll get a hold of us and say, Hey, do you have any adopters for this dog? We may have someone who’s been looking for a young pug, and we see that she’s getting one in through social media and so will contact her and say, Hey, we have an adopter that’s been waiting six months for a little bit younger pug. Do you have a place for this one? And if she doesn’t, then we can go the other direction. So it’s just kind of a networking, almost like a placement organization, I d s, if you would, where we just are able to network together and the sooner you can get him into a home and saddled the better. I definitely agree. So, being a rescue, you guys are foster based. I want to talk about your foster program for just a few minutes and kind of learn a little bit more about how you guys run that and how people can get involved. What is the process for somebody to get involved in volunteer with your organization, and they will kind of get into the process and how that works next. It’s very much like adopting. We have an application that someone who wants to foster bills out. We discuss the whole process with, um, what they’re willing to take on. Are they willing to take on special needs? Are they willing to potty train? Would they rather have a senior dog or a puppy just get a really good feel for their family and what they’re equipped to take on? We do a home visit with them and discuss that even more and make sure their yard is secure. What they’ve gotten. Do they have the time to have a dog in their home? Is everybody in the home on board? Sure, because that’s really important. And how much do they know about pugs and the care that they need? Can they make it to vet Appointment’s So those things are all discussed in advance, and then once we have approval on all it out and everybody’s on board, then we find that pug to go in their house, and a lot of times it’s a very quick process. Sometimes we know we have a couple coming in that we don’t have opened Foster’s for, and we’re out there scrambling for Foster’s and looking for referrals for someone. And, yeah, we could have to make that happen pretty quickly. And how big is your foster program? Currently, I think we have about 50 foster volunteers right now. Okay, Every rescue has a different size, different capacity. And so would you say that you have 50 pugs in those foster homes? Where do you guys fluctuate? Where’s your sweet spot? With the amount of bugs in your care at any given time, I think we’re usually in about 20 to 30 range somewhere. Okay, We try to keep it on the lower side because you’re managing expenses and vet care and transportation for them to and from and home visits and all of those things. So we don’t want to get so big that we’re having things fall through the cracks or someone has to wait for bet. Karen isn’t getting placed or something like that. We really try to live within our means, so to speak, so that we’re taking care of everybody and doing justice to the program, and it definitely sounds like you guys have two parts to this. You have those who are kind of re homed or ones that you find after these meet ups. And then it sounds like you guys also work with these other organizations to do transfers. I’m just curious. Where would you say the majority of the pugs in your care come from? Would you say that most of them come from owner surrenders and local situations? Or are you guys pulling from other states? I would say right now we’re probably about 50 50 between shelters and owner surrenders. It’s pretty equal, and ah, lot of them now are coming out of the north Idaho area and Utah. We haven’t seen as many right here in our valley, Boise Valley as we used to, which is great. I think it’s fantastic, and maybe that’s because we’re here can be dealt with a lot of that. I’m not sure, but we seem to be getting a lot more of them from the outlying areas than we are right here. Right now. We always hear that organizations get animals from the south, and I knew it was a pretty big state, and it’s interesting to me that you’re getting animals from northern Idaho, so essentially they’re coming down, and that’s still a few hour trip. But even at that I don’t hear that very often. When organizations within the same state are receiving animals, it’s usually from very down South States. But I like that you guys are working with your surrounding states. You’re not going 1000 or 2000 miles to get animals. You’re kind of focused on the immediate area and the relationships that you have to help those around you. And I think that’s really cool and you’re the first group that I’ve talked with that is in that situation. I don’t know if that was intentional or just the way it’s grown organically, but I’m fascinated by that. Yeah, I think that’s really just the way it’s grown organically and it keeps it a little simpler for us as faras transport and logistics and vets and things like that. Now we have placed pugs all over the country. We’ve placed them everywhere and how to transport it or flown, but as far as where we get them from, it’s pretty much these local surrounding states.
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And so it sounds like the foster application is really simple they fill out an application, answer some questions, you do a home visit, make sure everybody’s on board, and then after that, they’re set up and ready to go. It’s just a matter of getting the right animal in their care. And so what’s covered by you guys and what’s covered by the foster home? Basically, the foster home provides the love transport to the vet. A lot of them provide the food is a donation to hug her house. We do have food and will, and we do provide it, especially if it’s a special diet, a special need then The organization does pay for that because it gets expensive. But a lot of our foster families like to do that is their donation to the rescue. We bay all the medications, all the vet care, anything beds, crates, whatever they may need for that particular pug. It’s just interesting to me how everybody has a little bit to front view on how to do things. So thank you for sharing that with me, for sure. Yeah. So another thing that I want to talk a little bit about as you mentioned the vats was a rescue. I know it’s really important to build those veterinarian relationship. So do you guys have one or two that you work with in Boise? Or do you work with many of them across the county and across the area? We have one in Boise that we primarily work with crime primarily. We use bench animal clinic here and a little bit with Mr Veterinary Clinic as well. And they’ve been fantastic to work with. We try to find that balance between a really good bet and the expense. Yeah, obviously. So we can make our dollars stretch as far as we can, But I also want really good care. Yep. And then we have Alpine Animal Clinic in Pocatello that we do a ton of business with. We have a fantastic vet there that even will send dogs over for some of the surgeries that he does some orthopedic work and stuff on dhe. We have couple of really fantastic bets in Utah that we use as well. Having a veterinarian or many veterinarians is such a huge part of rescue and sounds like with as many as you have. You still have primary ones that you like to work with, and again it It takes a lot to build and maintain those relationships. It’s not a one and done, is it? It is not know. You know when you want to make sure they’re usually giving us a rescue discount, so we don’t want to be too demanding and we don’t want to step on toes. We want to respect math, and so we really try to keep that balance. Yeah, it’s not an easy thing to Dio, especially with all the other things on your plate, is a rescue. So I definitely appreciate that. I do want to talk a little bit more about the other programs that you guys have. Why don’t you tell us what else is going on in your organization? The other programs that we have would say would be fundraising. That’s always a big deal going on in our organization. And so there’s usually a few auctions each year at different times of the year to raise money that 100% of everything that we bring in goes to the care of the pugs. Nobody’s getting a salary, there’s no administrative costs, so it’s all veterinary care and and supplies for those animals, so those air a really big deal for us. And then we have a couple of other events during the year that we do with Wyoming Pug Rescue. We usually have an annual punk camp, if you will hug. Round up is what it was last year, and that’s a big fundraiser as well. People come by shirts and everybody goes with their pugs and stays for three or four days, and there’s events and all kinds of stuff. That’s a really fun thing that we do. And we’ve also worked with the Utah Bulldog Rescue, and we’ve done smushed Suarez down in Utah just to get the word out about rescue and his fundraisers for both of our group anyways, air so big on the relationship side of things. I’m curious what because those aren’t easy to start. So what would you say to somebody who’s struggling to build or find relationships? What would you say to them? You know, if you had to look back at the start of some of these relationships, what would you say to that younger organization right of Pug Pals? As you’re struggling to get some of these relationships going, you know, I think It’s all just about being real and realizing that we all have the same mission. I really do see out there and rescue too much where it becomes a competitive or a territorial thing, and we just aren’t that way. It’s everything is focused on the good of these rescues, and we help other rescues all the time. We work with Crazy Cavalier put Rescue in Utah and Bulldog Rescue in Utah, and we transport animals for each other. And it’s just it’s all focused on the animals. And, you know, I think that’s the big thing is that you have to stay focused on the mission. I like how you put it, right. I would have said You have to be transparent, but you were very really in your response when you have to be willing to be vulnerable and kind of put yourself out, there is an organization. Yeah, I think so many times, and I see it more with shelters than I do with rescues in that it’s hard or scary to be transparent, not only with your volunteers, but with the people who are adopting and your community in general. That’s a hard thing to d’oh! No, you’re right. It’s definitely not. I think it’s one of the biggest strengths of our organization, though we have a great drama free riel group of people that just focuses on their love of these animals. So my question Christa is: how do you find those people? What are you doing when people come to join your organization and they want to volunteer with you? What is that conversation like in order to find those like minded people and to continue to grow your volunteer base? You know, I really think it kind of it sounds cliche, but it kind of falls back to that. You know, your vibe, the tracks, your tribe thing. I think people filter themselves out very quickly. If they don’t fit into the mold and the attitude and the way we do things, we figure out very quickly. You know, if someone’s going to be too abrasive to deal with vets and things of that nature, you know, if we can’t curb that, then we can’t use you as a volunteer things like that. But I think most people that get involved just have such big hearts, and they’re just really willing to do for the most part, whatever it takes, that we just don’t really have an issue very often, you know that you also have to be willing to have the card conversations with people when that does happen and pull on the side and say, Look, we can’t do this, Yeah, I think that’s really smart, actually. But it’s super hard to dio. I’m intrigued by how you guys have been able to do that. Tell me real quick, How many volunteers do you guys have currently helping outside of the 50 foster homes? We You’ll be amazed how small we really are. I think there are five of us there on this organization. No. Yeah, it’s worked really well cause we all have our strengths, and we all just let each other run with what our strengths are and appreciate it that someone’s willing to take things on, and that could be hard to find to, especially when you’ve got five strong women doing it. We’re really well together. Yeah, because women are these days, they’re very strong and opinionated and that they believe in what they believe, And so to find a group of five that worked so well together to run an organization like this is incredible. In addition to those five Christa, Who else do you guys have supporting? You were kind of helping in the day to day operations. Or is it just the five of you? It’s pretty much just the five of us. There’s a little bit of extenuating circumstances. A lot of us have family members that will help That will call on and things like that and close family members mom or a daughter or something like that. But really, it’s pretty much the five of us at that top level. We do have a few more coordinators, five more people We call coordinators that help us kind of in Utah and stuff with foster homes or help us with managing an auction and things like that. We also work with some bigger auction groups. The name is falling on me now because I really should name them. But there’s a really big group that does auctions for rescue specifically for that purpose, and we use them once a year. They do a big auction for us. The fact that it’s just five of you, and then you’re running approximately 50 fosters and you’re doing fundraising events and transfers and building relationships and maintaining. I mean, that’s so huge. I was impressed before, but now I’m even more impressed. Yeah, we really d’oh. Raising funds for rescues. That’s what I was trying to think of. They do an amazing job helping all kinds of rescues with big auctions for fundraisers, and they need mention because they’re amazing. Yeah, again, it’s another relationship right that you guys have found and and built and maintained. And it’s just such a huge piece of what rescues do. I think it’s incredible. Do you guys partner with a couple of other businesses in the Boise area? We partnered with Barkin Per for some fundraisers. They’re, uh, pet supply type store here, a specialty, high end pet supply type store here. Okay, we’ve partnered with them. They’ve been amazing. They’ve given us a ton of food for our fosters and things. And then we’ve had dogs. They’re for adoption events and things of that nature. And so that’s a really big one here that we’ve partnered with. And then we do things like Pet Expo, and we partnered with the Idaho Humane Society. Does a walk every year and things like that. So there’s different events like that that we try to be a part of. One of the things I’m always really curious about is every organization has their challenges at some point or another, something that they’ve overcome, or maybe something that they couldn’t overcome and they had to pivot from what challenges have you guys had at any point in the 10 years that you guys have been operating? Are there any challenges that you’ve had to overcome and what did you learn from them? I think some of the big challenges have been fundraising kind. You know, we’ve had to really expand how fundraising happens, and I think social media has just been such a blessing for rescues, and that was a big one. We had to learn how to do those online auctions and manage those and get things out to people, so that is always a big challenge. I think the other one is finding good people in remote areas to do home visits for us and keep people trained and available for those things, and people have really busy lives and so getting the word out so that we had a base big enough to draw on volunteers and try not to draw on the same people. All the time is always an ongoing challenge. And then just transportation resource is getting dogs toe Holmes once they’re approved and making sure we have those contacts and building those relationships. Yeah, there’s so much of that. Actually, two out of the three were definitely people problems or people challenges, but I feel like that’s something you guys really strive with. So it’s interesting to me that two of the three are those things right. That either tells me that you guys are laser focused on people in general and learning about who they are and what they’re capable of, and connecting with them in ways that make them feel engage, make them feel like they’re import. I mean, they are an important aspect of what you guys do. But not every organization makes volunteers feel that way. And so I just like that. That’s, ah, huge focus for you guys and the transportation one is always interesting to me because I feel like so many people do struggle with it, and yet it is becoming a more popular topic. Are you guys finding help with transportation Now that you’re starting to talk about it a little bit more, Yeah, I think a lot of times there are some groups now that just do transportation that we’ve been able to build relationships with that we can call upon. We’ve learned that there are people that just travel back and forth to our areas at different times that will volunteer if they’re going. We’ve also built relationships with pilots and pause so they will fly our dogs If there’s a flight available and it’s a longer distance for us to get someone, there are harder to reach area. And then there’s other organizations out there like liberty, ride, transport and things like that that transport all over the country. And they just have volunteers that pick up different legs and go, Yeah, definitely definitely heard of pilots and Pause and I love liberty. Ride the girls. There are fabulous with what they dio for so organized. It’s amazing. Yeah, and it’s not an easy thing to d’oh. So if you consider around yourself with organizations who specialize in that who can help? It’s so important for sure. So one of my favorite parts in This entire conversation is always memorable stories, and I feel like you’ve got a couple of good ones up your sleeves, so I’ll ask for a minimum of one if you have another that you want to share him open to that. But what’s the one story that just brings a smile to your face? And on those bad days? Because we all have bad days, we all struggle with things. And what’s that one story that just puts a smile on your face? I think my favorite story is my first foster kids. I had just gotten into rescue. I really didn’t know what I was biting off. They won my heart over, and that’s why I’m still here today. I was on Facebook one day and I saw these brother and sister. They had been abused, and the rescue is looking for a foster family for him. He was gonna have to have a wheelchair cause his back legs had been damaged. Just fine had been damaged and they were having trouble finding someone. And my husband came home and thought someone died because I was crying so hard watching this video. And he said, You’ve got to do this, don’t you? Yes, it He knew what he was getting into. And so within about two weeks, they were at our house and after our home visit and everything, and it was very much a challenge. We were up in the middle of the night. We were creating crates, he had infections and he was sick, and he was still healing. And on Dhe, his sister wasn’t very trusting yet she’d been very abused. But watching them get healthy and growing, getting him his wheelchair and taking him out on our green belt for walks and people just bonding over and and he was so happy he loves everybody and keeping that they lived with me for seven months before we found the right family for them. And I still get to see them and their with their family here. And it just makes me so happy that they’re so loved. And they found a place and I was part of that. Yeah, Fostering is never easy, is it? It’s always a challenge. Even when you have healthy, healthy animals, it’s not easy. And like you said, many of them come broken and emotionally challenged. We, as humans I feel, like learned so much from animals and the way that they impact us. I feel like sometimes is more than how we impact their lives, right? Does that make sense? So Oh, yeah, totally. Their resilience and everything is just amazing. Amazing. I love that you had them for seven months. Sometimes they say when you have him for a longer period of time, it’s harder to toe. Let them go. Did you find that was true with these guys? Oh, I cried every day for two weeks. Yeah, I miss them so much. I still miss them. Yeah, it was very hard. But it’s that bittersweet thing where, you know, it’s the very best thing for them. Yeah, What? Agreeance. That’s where you’re both. This has to be. Yeah, is the long term. That’s hard to do, though, you know what I mean? Seven months is a long time and yeah, I can’t imagine the bag of mixed emotions, the excitement, the sadness and the worry. Even, you know, you found the right people and and they’re excited and there’s no they don’t hesitate. But still that angst, I guess. Yeah, and I think it’s made better by the fact that you know, we always tell everybody. If you get into this and it’s not right, don’t hesitate to call us. There’s no judgment there. They can come back. Yeah, and I think that helps and we do. Weekend visits will send him for a couple days so they can kind of try it on and see how things feel. And especially with a special needs like that. I think that helps. Very cool. We’ll definitely thank you for sharing that story. And I’m I’m glad you had such a positive first foster experience. Just It’s incredible to hear stories like that. So thank you. Yeah. The last thing I want to kind of talk about here before we start to wrap things up is what does the future look like for you guys? I mean, as a small organization, you know, building and maintaining the relationships is one thing, and continuing the transportation section of rescue is is one thing. Do you guys have any upcoming events from the ones we talked about? Or do you guys have anything planned for the future? Well, I know we have a big auction coming up here in November and you know we’ll continue with our events that we’ve been doing our pug round ups and all of those things. I think right now we’re kind of looking to rebuild the meet up here in Boise. The gentleman who has always done it has retired and his health isn’t as good anymore. And we weren’t real successful in finding someone to take it on. It’s a big job, and so we’re looking for kind of a dog park where we can kind of have an informal get together, whoever so often. And I just think those were really good for the pug community and to keep everyone in contact. So we want to make sure we keep that going. So that’s one of our challenges that we’re taking on. And I think just trying to grow our operations base right now to find some solid people in north Idaho and Utah that really want to be more involved so that we have more off of our shoulders, too help more Well, that’s no small list. I mean, with a group of five people with three main things the auction, the rebuilding, the meet up and then finding people to join you guys. Is was there three really tough things? So we want to encourage people in those areas to reach out to you guys. And if they’re interested, reach out, send a message and see how you can get started. Krystal, where’s the best place for people to find information on the auction coming up in November, Zit on the website or your social media pages? Yeah. It’s gonna be on our Facebook social media page more. I don’t think we ever put the auction’s on our website, but it will definitely be on our Facebook social media and our instagram. Okay. And how can people find you on Facebook and Instagram? But we are under Pug Pals, Greater Boise Pug Rescue and placement in both of those places. And so if you search for Pug Pals, you’re gonna find us very cool, and we’ll make sure to find those pages and then linked to the podcast as well so they can find them easily. I definitely have enjoyed my time chatting with you, Kristen. I learned a little bit more about your organization. Actually, a lot more about your organization and what you guys air doing with such a small group of volunteers. Is there anything that we may be missed that you want to mention before we wrap things up? I don’t think so. I think you covered a lot, and I really appreciate that. It’s been a really nice conversation. Yeah. Great. Well, we’ll definitely be following you guys going forward. And I’m really excited for the auction that you guys have coming up in November. So I wish you nothing but the best. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. And thank you for doing this. Thank you.
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