If you are a local Memphian, you may have heard of the 1st Annual “Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival”, taking place December 13th, 2015 from 1-7pm at the Hi-Tone in Midtown Memphis. This first-time event is a fundraiser benefiting ALIVE RESCUE Memphis, a local non-profit organization that is helping rescue and protect the lives and rights of animals.
Ranise Coppens, the President of ALIVE RESCUE Memphis, recently shared with us more about her organization and how you can get involved too (in more than just eating the grilled cheese)!
Can you tell me a little bit about your organization?
ALIVE Chicago has been going strong for almost 8 years. I had worked closely with them while living in Chicago and taking on different roles in their rescue. I chose to work with ALIVE because their rescue goals were in line with what I believed in and they also promote green living and a cruelty free lifestyle, which is very important to me. I had decided to move to Memphis with my husband and my plans were to start a rescue here. The founder of ALIVE approached me about starting a branch here, and it made so much sense. The Chicago rescue has been a big support to me emotionally and they also travel down here a few times a year to visit my favorite shelter and they bring a big load of very needy animals back to Chicago.
We are a completely foster based rescue, and sticking to that is very important to me. We only pull dogs when a foster home opens and we try to place the right dogs in the right foster homes. I believe that when a dog leaves a shelter, the street, or a cruelty situation it needs to go into a home to decompress and learn how to be a loved dog in a home environment.
*(Photo of Caffe A dog rescued from Animal Rescue Corps hoarding case. The picture on the left is the day it came into our rescue and on the right is after adoption.)
How are you different from other rescue groups?
I have made a point to try to bring a lot of the same fundraisers we did in Chicago to Memphis. Fundraising certainly isn’t always the most exciting part of rescue, but it’s important so that we can ensure that we have enough funds cover all foster supplies and vetting.
The best part about bringing these new ideas to Memphis is how receptive everyone has been. We had a Grrrl’s Night event here at Crazy Beautiful that mimicked my favorite Chicago event. We bring in make-up artists, hair stylist and nail techs and we only use vegan and cruelty free products during the night. That extends into everything in the goody bags that we give out as well as the raffle items.
*(Grrrl’s Night at Crazy Beautiful)
We also did a drag queen bingo event last month that was so popular we had to turn people away due to their not being any more available seating. It’s fun to bring different groups of people together who all stand behind a mission and celebrate and raise money for more homeless animals in the south.
*(Myself and a few volunteers at our Pint for Pups Event)
Another thing that makes us different is that we don’t serve meat at any of our events. We generally only offer all vegan food. We don’t advertise it that way and we certainly don’t shove the idea down anyone’s mouth, but people love the food and when they realize it’s vegan it sparks up wonderful conversations and introduces people to food and a lifestyle they may have not considered visiting before.
How does your adoption process work?
Ha! It’s long and we have gotten a bit of flack for it, but to us it’s worth it to make sure the dogs we have rescued have been set up for success. We have an online adoption application that is the first step to being approved. After it’s filled out we do vet checks, personal references, and background checks. The next step is a phone interview so we are able to give the potential adopter a good idea of the dog’s personality and to set up a home visit. We then bring the dog to the potential adopter’s home and it allows us to see where the dog will live, meet the adopters face to face and do a meet and greet with their animals. We give the adopters a day as well as ourselves to process all the information and see if we are both comfortable moving forward.
*(Picture of one our fosters Jennifer and Pez – now adopted)
If you had unlimited resources – what would that look like? How would things change or how would you do things differently (or the same?)
We would love to have enough money to be able to give back to the community in a lot of ways. One goal we have for 2016 is to do a community pet day where we work in a low income area of Memphis and set up for the day to give pet owners the tools they need to care for their animals. We would mimic this in the same way The Chicago community pet alliance is doing. The goal would be to provide vaccines, microchips, and spay/neuter coupons to attendees. We would also have a station where we traded in collars and leashes that we don’t think are positive tools for pets and exchange them for better items.
Implementing surrender programs at area shelters where if an animal is being surrendered is also a goal of ours. If there is a pet owner that has to surrender their animal based on financial problems, we would love to have a separate fund to service those animals by providing food and vetting to keep those animals out of the shelter.
A long term goal is to eventually have an adoption center. It would be a place to have adoption events, meet and greets and a transition space for dogs going into their foster homes. It wouldn’t be a boarding facility but could also serve as a place for ISO dogs or moms and puppies.
*(Scotch and Chai in foster home-still available for adoption. They obliviously don’t understand that they each get a bed )
How can people get involved (animal-loving Memphians)?
We are always looking for volunteers. We have two adoption events per month as well as fundraising events and we still have a few key roles we would love to fill in the rescue. Volunteer inquiries can be sent to our wonderful volunteer coordinator Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org
We always need foster homes. We cannot continue to save lives without them. We provide foster homes with a kennel, food, vetting, toys, treats, and everything else you need…you supply love. If you are interested in fostering, here is a link to our foster application.