OPIN: Outreach to Pets in Need
201 Magee Avenue c/o Stamford Animal Care & Control
Organization Specializes In: OPIN is an all volunteer non-profit organization, and our mission is to decrease the population of homeless pets in CT through medical treatment, training, public education, and placement programs. We support pets at Stamford Animal Care & Control and beyond.
Year founded: 2007
Interviewee: Renee Dunaway, Marketing Volunteer
Does your organization help place homeless animals? If so, how many animals are usually available at any given time? How long is their average stay with you? If no, what do you do?: We help place homeless pets in addition to other programs. In fact, we helped the municipal Stamford Animal Care & Control shelter turn no-kill, and although its intake is the third highest in the state, our adoption rate is #1 (about 400 pets/year). At any given time, we have about 5-10 dogs in our new foster program, and 20 dogs, 20 cats, and a few rabbits at Stamford Animal Care & Control.
What's the biggest challenge facing your organization?: Our biggest challenge is the misperception of bully breeds. Many dogs who come into our programs are pit bull breeds and mixes thereof, who are time and time again overlooked for other breeds, despite fantastic disposition.
What kinds of things do you do to raise awareness about your organization in your community?: Our Pound Around Town program is a group of dedicated volunteers who set up an info table in public places every weekend. They have raised thousands of dollars for our organization, and have gotten our adoptables and programs in front of countless community members. As well, we hold fundraising and adoption events throughout the year.
How does your organization help educate people about animal rescue? Do you offer classes/training or education materials for people who adopt animals from you?: We provide free, weekly obedience classes open to the public, and include 2 complimentary, private training sessions for each adoption. As well, we're building a resources section on our website.
Do you support purebred adoption? How often does your organization rescue purebred dogs? We support adoption of all types of pets.
What is one tip you would give a first time dog owner?: Look beyond the breed, and try to find a dog who realistically matches your current and future lifestyle. If you cannot commit to a pet's financial, medical, and wellbeing requirements for its entire life, either seek out programs for assistance or opt to foster.
What's your take on big dogs living in the city? Do you think it's wrong or is it a myth that bigger dogs need more space?:Myth. Each dog has a unique energy requirement, and as long as those needs are met, any dog can have an enriched life in the city. In fact, cities often offer more amenities such as dog parks and dog walkers than many suburbs.
Why do you think there is such a divide between purebred and rescue dog people? What needs to change?: The divide is because rescues are spending tireless effort in trying to gain resources to save the millions of homeless dogs in our shelter system, while most people that purchase purebred dogs are supporting the inhumane industry who greatly contributes to the problem. It's a careless, uneducated choice. There needs to be stricter legislation on breeding, and more public awareness on puppy mills and breed rescues.
What makes working for a rescue so rewarding? What keeps you going?: Our happy tails, of families who found their forever pets through us, of special needs dogs who we were able to give a second chance, and of families who encountered a financial or living crisis that would have separated them from their life-long pet had we not supported them.