Shelter Adoptions & Fundraisers Still Going Strong During The Pandemic: Meet Tails Humane Society!

dogs celebrating valentine's day at tails humane society

(Picture Credit: posted with permission from Tails Humane Society)

In a pandemic year when many enterprises have sadly been struggling, some, luckily, have been thriving. The popularity of pet adoption and fostering over this last year has been a ray of hope during an often bleak time.

Tails Humane Society, located in DeKalb, Illinois, has had a very successful year of rehoming lots of pets. They post weekly updates on social media of all the animals who have found their new homes, and it’s always a joy to see.

The cute personal profiles they post for each of their adoptable pets are surely partially to thank for Tails’s adoption success!

Their creative Valentine’s Day fundraiser also caught my eye. Having to cancel the usual adoption events has been a big drain on fundraising efforts for many shelters, so some have gotten creative with online endeavors, such as Tails’s adorable Valentine program, which you can read more about below.

I had a chance to interview Rosalie Trump, Events and Database Manager for Tails Humane Society, about their creative fundraisers and what animal rescue has been like over the past year. Here’s what she had to say!

How Tails Humane Society First Came To Be

cat in small cat house

(Picture Credit: posted with permission from Tails Humane Society)

AMANDA: I’ve been a longtime fan of Tails Humane Society on Facebook. Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview with DogTime.

ROSALIE: You’re very welcome!

AMANDA: Can you please tell me how Tails got started?

ROSALIE: Tails was established in 1999 by a group of local animal advocates dedicated to bringing a comprehensive animal shelter to DeKalb. We operated out of an old farmhouse until 2005, when we cut the ribbon on our Barber Greene shelter. In 2009, we opened our low-cost Spay/Neuter Clinic, providing quality, affordable sterilization services to the public. We continue to grow and strengthen our programs and service as we continue to save lives. You can read more here.

AMANDA: That’s wonderful!

What Does Tails Humane Society Do?

AMANDA: Could you please tell us about your mission? What kind of animals do you rescue? Do you also rehabilitate?

ROSALIE: The Tails mission is to build a compassionate community through the care of companion animals. We are committed to this mission and we work to achieve these goals:

  • Rescue and Adoption: Tails provides a safe haven for local animals who are strays or have owners who can no longer care for them. We also work with open admission shelters to rescue animals who are at risk of euthanasia.
  • Programs: Through community outreach, we strive to be an advocate for animals in our region by supporting pets in the home. These programs cover a broad range of assistance and make a notable difference in many lives.
  • Services: Our Dog Training and Low-Cost Spay/Neuter services not only help support our mission; these services help ensure successful adoptions and long-term pet-owner happiness.

Tails Humane Society is 100 percent service and donor-funded. We rely on the incredible support of our community to provide these life-saving services.

AMANDA: I love to see all these services and programs you offer. That must be such a help to pet parents! Do you have a foster network? If so, how does someone apply to that?

ROSALIE: Yes! Our foster families are a big part of our animal rescue team. Most animals spend some time in foster during their time at Tails. This helps us care for more animals than we have room for in our shelter, but it is also great to be able to offer a home setting for the animals until they find their forever family!

The foster program is coordinated by Loren Jones. You can learn more and apply to foster pets here.

AMANDA: Awesome!

A Valentine’s Day Fundraiser During The Pandemic

AMANDA: I absolutely loved your Valentine’s fundraiser. Can you please tell us a little about that? How did the idea come about? What was your goal? How did you run the fundraiser, and what were the results?

ROSALIE: Thank you! The idea actually stemmed from a box of Valentine-themed toys that were donated to Tails. We could have simply distributed the toys, but we wanted to share the joy of giving a shelter pet a new toy with our supporters – and it’d be a bonus if we could raise some funds!

Since the toys were donated, we didn’t have anything to lose by putting the idea out there. We also ran the fundraiser through and Facebook, neither of which cost us anything to use. Our goal was to raise $500, and we ended up raising $783 through this fundraiser.

Major donations are, of course, helpful to our overall budget, but we like to find ways that people without the means to donate a lot can still help us care for animals in need. That’s why we asked for $10 with each Valentine eCard. Most people can afford a $10 donation, and it feels good to know that you brightened the day of a shelter pet by sending them a new toy!

AMANDA: I can’t even tell you how much I love that!

How Does Someone Create Fun Shelter Events?

AMANDA: You seem to have several fun, clever fundraising events throughout the year. What is it like to be the event organizer?

ROSALIE: I have to admit, my job is very fun and rewarding! The leadership at Tails is very open-minded when it comes to fundraising, which gives our team the liberty to try new things and have some fun with it.

Most of our major fundraisers are tried-and-true annual events, mailings, etc., but we take opportunities throughout the year to try some small/medium-sized ideas that can engage with our supporters who aren’t necessarily local to Tails.

Animal-lovers want to support our mission, and if we can give them a fun or meaningful way to do that, we usually find success.

AMANDA: That’s smart! What will your next fundraising event be, if you know yet?

ROSALIE: We are currently running a “Luck O’ the Irish” Drawing Fundraiser for a $500 Target gift card. (Again, we are using an existing donation and trying to turn it into something bigger!) Each $10 entry buys you a chance to win the gift card. The winner will be drawn via Facebook Live on our page on St. Patrick’s Day. You can read more info here.

It’s Tough To Help All Those Animals, Especially In A Pandemic

AMANDA: I’ve been blown away by your adoption successes every single week. How do you do it? I know you take in tons of animals, but you also seem incredibly successful at adopting them out — kudos to you!

ROSALIE: Tails cares for more than 3,200 animals each year, but I can’t take credit for that. Our staff and volunteers are very committed to caring for animals and helping them find a forever home quickly.

We have nearly 45,000 followers on Facebook, which we try to use to our advantage. We frequently post adoptable animals, which helps them find homes very quickly.

AMANDA: This has been a wild year. Can you tell us about the unique challenges or any possible benefits the pandemic has had for Tails?

ROSALIE: Like many others, Tails had to cancel fundraising events and close our shelter to the public for a period of time. Once we slowly reopened, it was by appointment only. This did decrease the number of adoptions we were able to do for a couple of months, but we were able to find new systems that eventually got us back up and running.

We ended up adopting a record number of pets last year!

One other pleasant surprise in 2020 was the generosity of our donors. Although we couldn’t do some of our events in-person, people really showed up for us through virtual fundraisers and helped us reach many of our fundraising goals!

AMANDA: That is fantastic! Congratulations!

What’s Next For Tails Humane, & How You Can Get Involved

AMANDA: What does the future hold for Tails? What is the rescue’s dream goal?

ROSALIE: We want to continue to be a really good animal shelter, helping homeless pets. Eventually, we’d like to be able to expand our facilities and have a separate adoption center located nearby on one of the busy roads in town.

AMANDA: Wonderful! Good luck with that! How would a potential adopter see the animals you have available and apply to adopt?

ROSALIE: Our website is always up-to-date with adoptable animals. Interested people can stop by Tails Humane Society to visit with pets, or email [email protected] to inquire about an adoptable pet.

AMANDA: Great! Thank you so much for your time!

Are you impressed with the work that Tails Humane Society and other shelters have done during the pandemic? What other interesting fundraisers could shelters try in these unusual times? Let us know in the comments below!