Res-Q-Pets: Local Heroes Making a Difference
Story by Jim & Heather DiPrato. Photos by Heather DiPrato.
Ginger awoke in a strange place. Lying on a soft towel, she saw her water bowl, food dish, and a few toys nearby. Across the room, a dog she didn’t know was sunning herself on the floor. Her person, the kind older woman she’d lived with her entire life, was now gone. What would become of Ginger now?
The predicament this five-year-old Yorkie found herself in is sadly quite common. Each year, hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs lose their owners for a variety of reasons. And, while healthy puppies and kittens are often adopted quickly, regrettably, older pets or those with medical needs are far harder to rehome. Animal shelters are overloaded, and orphaned pets that cannot be adopted quickly are often euthanized.
When you hear people say, ‘Adopt! Don’t buy from a puppy mill!’ this is the reason. There are so many sweet animals in need of loving homes, and you can save a life by adopting.
Local Heroes to the Rescue!
Res-Q-Pets is a non-profit, small breed dog and cat rescue headquartered in nearby Hamilton Township, NJ. They were founded in 2006 by Angela Gould and Pam Mitchell, and along with a team of volunteers, Res-Q-Pets is dedicated to saving the lives of homeless animals. Ginger was one of the lucky ones, cared for by a local Res-Q-Pet foster. Soon, she’d be paired with a loving family and have a new lease on life!
Since many foster families reside right here in Yardley and Lower Makefield, and Res-Q-Pet adopters often live within our community, we’d love to share their great work in honor of Adopt-a-Senior-Pet-Month!
Wendy Simon and Family: Animal Lovers Committed to Volunteering
Wendy, Jason, Casey, and Haley of Lower Makefield got involved with Res-Q-Pets nearly a decade ago. Long time animal lovers, the Simons adopted Cody, a Bichon Poo, from Res-Q-Pets in 2012. “We already had a Bichon named Sammy,” says Wendy. “Cody quickly became a part of our family. Our son Casey, who was 11 at the time, was so inspired, he wanted to become a Res-Q-Pet volunteer as his Bar Mitzvah project.”
“Even though his Bar Mitzvah wasn’t for two years, he was eager to get started right away,” says Wendy. “Because Casey was so young, I had to go with him when he volunteered, so his project became my project as well.” At the time, they’d travel to the PetSmart in Hamilton for meet and greets with prospective adoptive families. Casey and Wendy would hold the pups, and answer questions about them.
“Casey also wanted to help raise money to supply some of the items that were needed for the rescues,” says Wendy. “We attended many local events and held collection drives. Casey even set up lemonade stands in our neighborhood and down the shore! He raised thousands of dollars for the organization. We were so proud of him!”
Volunteering at Res-Q-Pets came naturally to Wendy, who loved animals since she was a little girl. She fondly recalls the menagerie of animals she cared for during her childhood. “My first dog, Prince, was a Welsh Terrier, and a terror to the neighborhood,” laughs Wendy. “But I understood him, he was my friend.” She also had hermit crabs, turtles, hamsters, and a beloved rabbit named Thumper.
“When Thumper disappeared after an animal destroyed his hutch,” says Wendy, “my parents brought home a Shih Tzu named Thor to help console me. He was the best dog!” Her love of animals has not wavered, and over the past decade, Res-Q-Pets has become a very important part of Wendy’s life. “I continued volunteering long after Casey’s Bar Mitzvah project was complete,” she says. “I loved the animals and working with the other volunteers and believe in the mission.” She has helped with fundraising, answering emails, and posting information on the Facebook page.
Wendy was also deeply involved in the LMT Dog Park, where she served as the VP of the fundraising committee. While assisting with the LMT Dog Park, Wendy recruited Mary Waldman and her longtime friend Risha Neil to volunteer and foster for Res-Q-Pets! Wendy and her family have also served as fosters for cats and dogs over the years and have adopted as well.
“We took care of JoJo, a Shih Tzu Poodle mix puppy during a particularly hard time for our family. My father-in-law had recently passed away, and our daughter was recovering from a car accident,” says Wendy, “Haley convinced me to adopt JoJo as an emotional support dog. We call that sort of thing a ‘foster failure’ and it’s almost a rite of passage for people who take on foster rescue animals regularly. Every now and then, one completely steals your heart.”
Today, the Simon kids are grown. Haley is 22 and works for 97.5 The Fanatic as a Producer, having graduated West Virginia University as a journalism major in 2021. Casey is a sophomore at Lynn University and studied film production. Sammy, along with Res-Q-Pets rescues Cody and JoJo, are all happy, healthy, and enjoying life with their family.
Wendy continues to volunteer and foster animals for Res-Q-Pets, while encouraging other families to consider fostering, too. “There are different types of fosters,” she explains. “Some foster during summer or winter breaks, others do it year-round. Certain families like to work with puppies or kittens, and others have a passion for special needs or retired breeding moms. One thing that’s for sure, foster families are needed and valued.”
A Puppy-Raising Superstar: Risha Neil
Risha is a superstar foster, who has volunteered with Res-Q-Pets for nearly 2 years. She’s shown with her two adopted Res-Q-Pets pups. George (left), and Mollie (right). In her time as a foster, Risha has helped foster and placed 57 dogs (and counting!). “During the start of the pandemic, there was such a strong interest in the adoption of puppies, and our family enjoyed the process of fostering,” Risha explains. “I am also a tutor, and my students have really enjoyed meeting all of the foster pets! I make them part of the lesson, and we use them to teach math principles. It’s been so much fun!”
Mary Waldman: A Heart for Animals with Unique Needs
Mary is relatively new to volunteering for Res-Q-Pets and has been a foster for 3 1/2 months. In this photo, she’s holding Mollie, one of Risha’s dogs.
Mary has a passion for working with rescued “breeder moms” who often have special challenges as a result of being used to produce litter after litter of puppies, and not being treated like a pet for their entire lives. But fostering gives a chance to change their future, and that is a wonderful outcome. Currently, she’s caring for a sweet breeder mama, whose story you can read and follow on Res-Q-Pets Facebook page with many others.
Passionate about Adoption
Suzanne has been a foster for 5 years, and shown holding Rudy, who’s now available for adoption! Rudy is a sweet and beautiful boy! Suzanne has a passion for animals and encouraging the adoption of rescued pets, as there is an enormous need to fill.
“I love seeing people meet and begin to bond with a Res-Q-Pet when they become an adopter. They are making a huge difference in the life of their pet.”
Angela Gould: Committed to Rescuing Animals
Angela is the President of Res-Q-Pets. She’s shown holding the adorable Pancake and Bacon who will be up for adoption soon!
Both born as “swimmers” (a disorder that makes them unable to stand or walk on their own) their breeder surrendered them to Res-Q-Pets as they were deemed “unadoptable” for the breeder.
However, with Angela’s assistance, in just a few weeks of rehab, they were both walking! And my goodness, they are the sweetest pups!
Res-Q-Pets Needs: Fostering, Adoption, and Fundraising Support
Throughout the years, Res-Q-Pets has placed thousands of dogs and cats into their fur-ever homes. And, just like people, no two pets are the same. “We rescue animals from local shelters, breeders, puppy mills and owner surrenders in PA & NJ,” Wendy explains. “We are all volunteers, and all the funds we raise go to helping the animals. The financial needs are significant, and we appreciate all the support provided by this community to help rescue pets in need.”
For an organization like Res-Q-Pets, fundraising is critical. Money generated through donations, fundraisers, and adoption fees supports the medical care required for animals before they can be adopted, and some of their needs are significant. Before any dog or cat is adopted out, they are made whole again and healthy, up to date on shots, microchipped, and spayed/neutered. The adoption fee is the same even when the organization spends thousands for an operation and/or other medical expenses.
“Most of the animals that have been rescued have had medical issues that require resolution,” says Wendy. “Our local vet, Dr. Patel from Woodbourne Animal Clinic, has been very generous and wonderful to our rescue, yet we are constantly incurring expenses and in the red as an organization. During the pandemic, we haven’t been able to have dog adoption days at PetSmart. We have been just posting the available dogs and some cats on the Res-Q-Pets Facebook page and our own Facebook pages.”
Since the large, in-person fundraisers that Res-Q-Pets had once relied upon for fundraising had to be canceled during the pandemic, the organization instead focused on grassroots and smaller fundraisers through their Facebook site, such as sales of their ‘Drink. Eat. Rescue. Repeat.’ apparel, a calendar created from pictures sent in from adopters, and an online auction.
Though the pandemic put a damper on their in-person adoption events, it created new opportunities for fostering and adoption. “Luckily with families being home much of the time, the demand for puppies and kittens was high,” Wendy explains. “But this organization is all about saving lives, no matter their age or medical condition. The senior and special need dogs and cats have a much harder time getting adopted, so raising awareness is crucial.”
The volunteer fosters for Res-Q-Pets each create awareness for their animals through their personal and social media networks and have been incredible at finding the perfect homes for animals throughout the pandemic. “The only concern has been to find the best match for each specific dog and cat,” says Wendy. “The adoption process is very thorough to ensure a forever home. We do vet & reference checks and a home visit. We also have a 2 week ‘trial’ period to make sure this is the right fit for the pup and adopter.”
There will always be pets in need of adoption, and since they do not have a physical shelter, Res-Q-Pets always needs dedicated foster volunteers to help these pets during their transition period before adoption. “The goal is to make sure every pet gets adopted, no matter what the animal’s age or health condition,” says Angela. “Thanks to Res-Q-Pets volunteers like Wendy, Risha, Suzanne, and Mary, we’ve been able to save thousands of animals!”
“The fosters at Res-Q-Pets are true heroes,” says Jamie Fazzalore-Truelove, whose two fur-babies, Archie and Vinnie, were both adopted from Res-Q-Pets fosters. As for the families who foster these pets, they don’t necessarily see themselves as heroes. “We all just love animals,” says Wendy. “And we think every animal should have a safe, happy home.”
Res-Q-Pets hopes to restart their adoption days at PetSmart in Fairless Hills soon. If you’d like to learn more, follow the journey of the animals, or get involved with Res-Q-Pets as a foster, adopter, or volunteer, follow their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/officiallyresqpets/