Charlie’s Angels in the Asheville area of North Carolina is an animal rescue that is almost all volunteer run. These are angels saving angels.
“I was raised around animals growing up,” said Charlie’s Angels president and volunteer Kim Smith. “We always brought in strays. I thought I wanted to go to veterinarian school but I couldn’t handle euthanizing animals. So, I got into the rescue part. I moved over to this group 3 years ago.”
Kim puts in countless hours each week saving four-legged angels in need. She works 20 hours a week as an administrative assistant then dedicates the rest of her time to Charlie’s Angels.
“It’s not just me out here; I have a team behind me that makes me look good!” said Kim. “Our volunteers all have other jobs, we all have a life — somewhat,” she laughed. “If I call and say I need help, someone always steps up to help.”
That’s what Charlie’s Angels angels do.
They removes animals from high-kill shelters. Some of the places they visit are downright depressing.
“They’re in cages, they lie on the concrete floors,” said Kim. “They generally don’t have anything to keep them warm. They smell, they don’t bathe them. Sometimes they have sores. It’s just awful.”
Some of the animals Kim rescues will end up in a very special program at the posh Aloft Hotel in downtown Asheville. The dogs stay there 24/7 and are cared for by hotel staff members. The goal is to get the pups into a more inviting environment so potential adopters can get to know them – devoid of all the shelter stress.
“When you walk into the gorgeous aloft hotel, you see a puppy ready to greet you and say hello,” said Kim. “People stop to get to know the dog and learn what the program is about. Even though they may not be adopting, it does help with the socialization of the animal.”
That is so beneficial for these animals. It’s paramount to making sure they don’t end up back in shelters because they didn’t do well with their new family. Not all people have the patience it takes to nurture a shelter dog and give it the attention required as he/she gets used to his/her new surroundings.
The Charlie’s Angels/Aloft partnership has landed 70 dogs in forever homes since they paired up last year. They’re about to make that 71.
“We’re reducing the overall euthanasia rate,” said Kim. “If we can start this at hotels and stores all across the U.S., it would be huge.”
Kim just wishes Charlie’s Angels could save more.
“I cry on a regular basis,” she said. “But we’re a small shelter so I can only pull 2 or 3 dogs at a time.”
It adds up though. Charlie’s Angels has about 100 active volunteers, and this dedicated group is on track save more than 1,000 animals this year. Last year they rescued 898.
When they started in 2009 Charlie’s Angels was foster based only. Then in 2012 they moved into a shelter – no kill. They’ve come a long way, but they simply need more room.
“We’ve already outgrown our facility,” said Kim. “We only have 20 dog runs and a cat room that holds 12. We have foster care, but we need more room at the shelter but we don’t have the funds to move.”
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“The biggest thing we hear from donors is how they appreciate that we are volunteer driven,” said Kim. “People know that the money they’re giving goes directly back into caring for the animals.”
At Charlie’s Angels, 96% of the money they raise goes straight into their programs. Only 4% is used for overhead and running the facility. The only employees they have are 3 part-time kennel attendants. That includes the kennel manager, who is also a volunteer.
They may be short on staff, but they’re full of heart. And they don’t let time constraints or being bombarded by homeless pets stop them from always being diligent about the adoption process.
“We have a very, very low return rate,” said Kim. We do a home visit, we do reference checks. We even call landlords to make sure they’re okay with it. And if apartment owners have to pay a deposit, we make sure the deposit is paid before they’re allowed to leave with the animal. We also do personality assessments and ask detailed questions about your work schedule, kids in the home, your activity level. It’s almost like we’re matching you for a date! You’ll never walk into Charlie’s Angels and walk out with a pet. It’ll be 2 to 3 days before you’re allowed to get your dog.”
A recent case Kim handled involved an elderly woman who was having to move into a nursing home. She was being forced to give up her Shih Tzu Patches.
“We cried together on her porch,” said Kim. “Patches had been with her for 9 years. I promised I would find Patches a loving home. I finally found someone. Another senior citizen – retired military – who had just lost his Shih Tzu. He fell in love with Patches.”
The happy endings are what keep Kim going.
“I love seeing the families’ pictures and stories and Facebook,” said Kim. “I can tell that the dog is a valued member of their family. They’re safe, they’re treated like a brother or sister. They’ve got a cushy life. It makes me feel like all the hours that I give to this, that it’s all been worth it,” said Kim.
If you would like to support Charlie’s Angels, please use coupon code: CharliesAngels at Fetching-Apparel.com. That code also gives you FREE SHIPPING. Thank you!