ARF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit
Animal Rescue Foundation was founded and legally incorporated as a non-profit corporation in December of 1995. ARF's purpose was to promote animal rights, to support a spay and neuter program, to rescue abandoned animals and to provide education on animal rights.
Madeline Busby, Nancy Gipson, Betsy Hass, Mona Pate and Dianne Robers were all active in the animal welfare community and decided to band together and form a group of their own. They were joined by Doug James and Brad Berg.
ARF has been active in animal rights issues from its beginning. Brad Berg had rescued two dogs from being drowned by their owner in a swimming pool. ARF's newly elected officers attended the judge's hearing about this incident. The man was given a sentence that included fines and the most community service in Mobile County's history.
Originally, ARF had no facility to house its rescue animals. Instead, many kind families opened their homes and hearts as foster families until permanent homes could be found. Even though we now have a facility, we still rely heavily on foster families to extend the reach of our rescue and help more animals.
ARF has grown immensely since 1995 but its core foundation still remains the same. We are indebted to ARF's founding members for their efforts and for the great organization they have built. We take pride in our history and strive to always hold true to the vision of this special group of animal champions.
In 2002, ARF gained a huge asset that greatly changed the way the rescue worked. ARF got its own facility to use as a shelter, our very first ARFanage. The building and property were donated to ARF by Dr. Stuart Dowling, DVM. He had retired from his vet practice in the late 1990's and his old office and kennels were no longer in use. Renovations to this facility were funded by a grant from the Mapp Family Foundation.
With the ARFanage, the number of animals under ARF's care greatly expanded as did our need for volunteers and funding. In 2004, ARF's largest fundraiser was born...Woofstock!
In 2005, ARF took another leap forward when we qualified for acceptance into the Mobile County Maddie's Pet Rescue Project. This partnership brought together ARF, Mobile SPCA, the City of Mobile Animal Shelter and Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter. Maddie's Fund is a nationwide project aimed at creating a no-kill nation where all healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats have a chance for life and adoption.
In 2008, through our partnership with Maddie’s Pet Rescue Project, we were able to help
the City of Mobile Animal Shelter to become a 100% healthy, no-kill shelter. They met their goal in October 2008 and continue to maintain this status today.
In 2009, it was clear that ARF was still growing! At the first meeting of the year, new board member Lindsey Carter made a motion to start a building fund for a new ARFanage. The fundraising project was named Project Paws and this new board of directors channeled efforts into fundraising the tremendous amount of money needed to open a new facility during their term. With monies from Maddie's Fund, the now hugely successful Woofstock and many private donations, the building fund began to grow.
One of the biggest expenses for ARF has always been veterinary expenses. In an effort to save money and improve the quality of the care our ARFans received, president Michelle Turner and local veterinarian Dr. Caroline Rehm Hassell launched a shelter medicine program at ARF in 2009. Under Dr. Caroline's direction and supervision, ARF was able to now perform many diagnostic tests right at ARF. This program provided great savings and allowed us to funnel even more money into the building fund.
Under treasurer Dawn McLaughlin's careful management of ARF's budget over the previous two years, by 2011 the building fund had grown enough to begin looking for a location for a new ARFanage. When the board of directors found the current Rangeline location, something just seemed right and we put an offer on the property within a week.
Vice President Lynn Carter took the helm as project manager and worked closely with our contractors on design and cost. RJ Baggett served as our general contractor and they generously donated their services in managing the entire renovation to turn our property into
the 8,000 sq ft facility we call home today!
The first ARFanage on Holcombe Ave.
The project was hard work from start to finish. Due to zoning, we had to request a Use Variance in order to set up as an animal shelter in this location. The original request was denied and we had to go before the city council and appeal the ruling. Ben Cummings of Cummings Architecture worked hard on the Use Variance proposal and represented ARF as our spokesperson. Armed with as much information as possible, ARF went door to door in the local community to gain support of building our shelter on Rangeline Road. Eventually, ARF's request was approved and we moved forwarding in building the ARFanage.
In March 2012, the renovations were finally complete and the dogs and cats were moved from our cramped space on Holcombe Avenuee. to our huge facility on Rangeline Road. ARF hosted a grand opening in May to celebrate. The new facility offers dog suites with access to outdoor runs instead of kennels, allowing the rescues to live together. The facility also boasts separate play areas, isolation, intake holding and a state-of-the-art medical area, making it one of a kind in our community.
Move in day to the new ARFanage!
The evolution of the new ARFanage. Our runs and play yard complex started out as an overgrown pond. We filled it in, poured cement for the runs and a gravel area for the play yard. Now the dogs have plenty of room to stretch their legs at the ARFanage.