The journey to running her own non-profit rescue was not an easy one. We sat down with Geri to talk about the challenges, successes, and moments that make it all worth it.
A Path Less Traveled
Arizona has never shied away from taking care of animals in need. In 1866, the ASPCA opened their doors in Arizona with a goal to rescue and rehome as many animals as they could. Years later, in 1957, the Arizona Humane Society was established to help care for animals that were homeless, sick, or in need of a new home. From this came a community of people dedicated to improving the lives of animals from all walks of life.
At age 16 Geri started volunteering at the Arizona Humane Society, soaking up as much knowledge from the people around her as she could. Already a volunteer and foster mom, Geri wanted to do more. To find out where the need was greatest, she reached out to shelters all over the valley, finding out what was most needed. The answer wasn’t a huge surprise, space was always an issue in the shelter world but what Geri saw was a specific need to care for pregnant dogs and give them a place to have their puppies and recover in peace.
From the Ground Up
With that discovery, Almost There Foster was born. Geri wanted to create a safe haven, a place where dogs could get the care and attention they needed to give birth to their puppies and raise them before adoption. Having been born and raised in Arizona, the only natural choice to start her organization was in Phoenix, the place she feels most at home.
Geri wanted to educate the public, to help people learn about shelter dogs, why they are such wonderful animals and the benefits of fostering and adopting. She started partnering with shelters around the valley, including Maricopa County Animal Control and the Humane Society to bring more education and more awareness as to what the organizations are doing.
Since the organizations start in 2013, it has grown significantly and has become a well-known dog rescue in Arizona. Geri now employees 6 full-time employees of her own, dedicated staff working to rescue, heal, and adopt female dogs and their puppies. Geri always maintains a dedicated volunteer program, working with members of the community to help keep the rescue running at full speed. She relies on volunteers to help keep the kennels clean, walk the dogs daily, and provide a little extra love and care to mama’s as they raise their pups and wait to be adopted. Running a rescue is not without challenges, Geri knows the struggle of finding a home for every dog that comes to her. The hardest part, she says, is seeing amazing dogs struggle to find forever home. But Geri and her team never give up, keeping the dogs safe and cared for until the day comes they find their new family.
The Community Around Rescue
As Geri continues to provide education to her community, she has seen it grow and expand, as more people join her efforts to save these dogs. Geri attributes a lot of her success to the community- the people that foster and adopt, the trainers that help prepare the dogs for their new homes, the vets and clinics that provide spay and neuter services, and everyone in between.
Despite the challenges of running a growing dog rescue, there is no better feeling than seeing a dog go home with her forever family. Geri and her team work tirelessly to make sure each one of their dogs are loved, cared for, and placed with the perfect person. The stigma against shelter dogs can be a tough one, but Geri knows that with each rescue, they are closer to breaking those stigmas and to showing people that these dogs truly are man’s best friend.
Almost There Foster Care