Animal associations

AARF helps animal shelters with pets in need

From a young age, Sara Shirley has always had a passion for helping animals.

“I was one of those kids who would carry stray dogs down our very long driveway and tell my mom they were following me,” Shirley said. “I don’t know where it comes from, I was just born with a passion for animals.”

After years of volunteering at various local animal shelters, Sara Shirley was inspired to start one of her own.

Animal Assistance and Rescue Foundation (AARF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing service and support to pets in need. Since its creation in 2015, they have helped hundreds of animals.

Shirley said she did not form the organization to compete with other shelters, but to supplement the services already available.

“We are focused on retrieving animals that require more care than open foster shelters can handle,” Shirley said. We shot newborns, sometimes breastfeeding with mothers. We had two dogs with gunshot wounds.

AARF is made up of a group of volunteer individuals with one mission: to help pets and the people who care for them. Volunteers have decades of animal welfare experience and are there to do what is right and best for each individual situation. AARF does not have a dedicated housing facility and all pets are cared for in foster homes.

Through donations and volunteers, they are able to provide medical assistance and foster homes for animals to free up space and resources at shelters. Involving animals in their programs is time consuming and they need at least a week to prepare for admission.

Many animals are turned over to AARF for placement, where they provide basic medical care and food. Once the litter is 8 weeks old, AARF will have them spayed and then place them for adoption. The only stipulation is that the owner must agree to have Mom spayed. Adoption fees for dogs are $125 and cats are $75. A list of adoptable animals on their website.

“We try to help the public when they reach out or see information about free puppies and kittens, and we want to stop that because most free puppies and kittens will never be fixed. We want to get these puppies and kittens repaired and then adopted, including neutering the mother, making sure we stop the cycle where we can.

To ensure that 100% of the proceeds go to help the animals, everyone who works there is a volunteer, including Shirley.

“The more volunteers we have, the more we can do,” Shirley said. “We’re so small and of course everyone needs a break from time to time, especially if they’re in foster care,” she said. We need volunteers to help set up events, to represent us, to foster and adoption counselors.

AARF has no set geographic guideline and assists animals throughout the region. For more information about the program, to become a volunteer or host family, or to donate, visit aarfalabama.com.