When Michael Ezzo, co-founder of Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary (RHAS), attended Maddie’s® Medium and Large Adult Dog Foster Apprenticeship in October, he never imagined how much it would change his organization. And, how quickly that change would happen.
“My partners were fully prepped on me coming home with ideas, but they never imagined how much I was going to try and implement!” explained Ezzo. “When I went to the apprenticeship, we did not have a foster program, nor did we know how to build one. We had no idea things would come together so afterwards, and I can’t thank everyone enough for giving us the tools to make it happen!”
RHAS is a new rescue group in Seattle, WA, started with the desire to make rescue animals more accessible for fosters and adopters, and to give animals a bigger chance at survival. Ezzo shared, “In the Pacific North West, we are ‘competing’ with a lot of rescue organizations. And yet, we hear from a lot of potential adopters and fosters that they were denied because of living in apartments, not having a yard, having cats, etc. These restrictions can lead to a lot of animals wasting away in shelters.”
The apprenticeship gave them the tools to develop a fresh approach to fostering a dog. Since returning just six weeks ago, they’ve launched a social media campaign, and leaned on the advice of several other rescue groups to sign up around 40 fosters. Ezzo said they met the owner of RescueFoster.com at the apprenticeship, and their process has made signing up fosters very easy.
What’s more, their community has caught on. “Fosters are stoked to get animals! We have a lot of face-to-face interactions with the public, and people are continually shocked that we offer a Pup-Date program, meaning they can take a dog out for a coffee date, or some relaxation time,” said Ezzo. “We offer short term and long-term fostering as well, but people are really excited to hang out with dogs for short bursts of time. Especially if they are busy or live in an apartment!”
“Adopters are excited to meet with us, and actually feel hopeful about adopting. I feel like the apprenticeship has given a lot of people hope, not just the three of us running the rescue organization,” continued Ezzo. “Businesses are now excited to work with us, and we are a van away from starting a program to bring adoptable animals to businesses for midday therapy breaks.”
Ezzo concluded, “There are so many moments in this industry where walls are put up and there is uncertainty about how to push through, but the apprenticeship has really made it possible to not only accomplish all of our goals, but to shatter all of our expectations. The ideas we learned from the apprenticeship have definitely given us the tools to succeed far into the future! Truly and sincerely, #ThanksToMaddie!”
The next Maddie’s® Apprenticeship application window is March 2 – 9, 2020. If you want to get started right away, be sure to check out our online apprenticeship opportunities on Maddie’s® University (scroll to the bottom to view online options)!