The Friends of Wake County Animal Shelter, a popular volunteer group that encourages pet adoption, is now a nonprofit and hopes to raise money for animals in need of homes.
The group, made up of five volunteers, has been posting photos online of pets from the county animal shelter since 2012. Its Facebook page has more than 21,000 likes.
As a nonprofit, the group hopes to provide more financial support for the Wake County Animal Center and rescue groups throughout North Carolina.
“We want to continue raising awareness and improving the quality of life for these animals,” said Alicia Carlucci, a volunteer who helps run the Facebook page.
Earlier this year, the group launched Heal-a-Heart, a program that provides funding for treatment for dogs that have tested positive for heartworms. Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm and spread when an infected mosquito bites an animal.
The disease is not contagious and is relatively simple to cure, but treatment can be expensive. If left untreated, animals with heartworms can die.
Many “long-timers” – dogs that have been at the shelter for more than 30 days – are not adopted because they are heartworm-positive, Carlucci said.
To ease the financial burden, Friends of Wake County Animal Shelter launched online campaigns to raise money for treatment. Now the group plans to sponsor certain heartworm-positive dogs directly through Heal-a-Heart, and it wants to contribute $250 per adopted dog that needs treatment.
Adopters can choose their own veterinarian, and the group will pay the vet directly. Since Heal-a-Heart launched, 125 dogs have been treated, said Christine Becker, a volunteer.
“We wanted to do something to help people give heartworm-positive animals a chance,” Carlucci said. “Maybe it will make people think twice about it.”
Friends of Wake County Animal Shelter started four years ago when a group of volunteers decided to create a Facebook page to “give the animals a voice,” Carlucci said.
Their plan was to post photos of one cat and one dog per day. Posts were intended to be cheery and upbeat – “to put the animals in a positive light,” she said.
Four years later, Carlucci is the only remaining volunteer from the original group. Four of the volunteers have full-time jobs, but they post on the Facebook group several times a day. Carlucci is a science teacher at South Granville High School.
Volunteers spend hours photographing, bathing and spending time with animals at the shelter every week and running the Facebook page. Now they’ve added coordinating sponsorships and donations as a nonprofit to the list.
“We’re excited to promote healthy animals,” Carlucci said.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler