Uniting the Pet Rescue Community

By Anne Thomas. Photos Flash and Hound Photography

Since we last spoke with Bari Mears for our Rescue News story in PDM’s inaugural edition May 2016, Phoenix Area Care Coalition 911 (PACC911), has continued to unite the pet rescue community in its efforts to save animals across the Phoenix Valley and beyond.

They operate using their four key resources: large outdoor adoption events; ongoing fundraising; educational outreach; and vital medical assistance to soften the high cost of veterinary care. Consisting of 100 partner rescue groups and 30 ‘friends’ of PACC911, the Coalition’s ability to help Arizona animals in need, continues to grow.

Bari, PACC911 founder and president, says what’s changed most over the years is that “all our programs have expanded in order for us to do more with them.” The most significant change is how PACC911 helps those animals most in need, those that suffer from abuse or neglect, or those that have medical conditions which would create a hardship for any rescue group willing to take them on.

Lulu’s Angel Fund, begun in 2012, to help 12 such animals, has grown into the Critical Care Program. This is a unifying umbrella program that includes other single source donations, along with proceeds from the Glimmer of Hope Event. As of mid-November 2017, the Critical Care Program will have helped well over 300 animals and caregivers this year alone, and over 800 since the program’s inception.

“The Critical Care Program is a major help to the community, and a major life force. The goal is to help any animal we can, so long as it is housed at a shelter in Arizona.” The program works by first identifying an animal in need at an Arizona shelter, one that will likely be euthanized because it is sick or injured.

PACC911reaches out to their rescue base and ‘friends’ to see if someone can take the animal. “The more rescues we can engage, the more likely we’ll have a rescue step up to help.” Bari realizes that the PACC911 rescues are often full, and even with PACC911 offering financial help, they may not be able to take the animal. This is when ‘friends’ of PACC911 play a vital role in stepping up to help.

“We are so excited to keep it growing, to pursue additional grants, and to hope for success in 2018, by bringing in more grants. The need to help animals is very great and continues to grow. There are sick animals that have little hope of being saved without our program.”

To help support the Critical Care Program that PACC911 manages, their major fundraising event is the annual Glimmer of Hope luncheon. The 2018 Glimmer will be held on February 11th, at the Arizona Biltmore Resort Hotel. The luncheon, kicking off at 11:00am, will have both silent and live auctions, and will also include a short presentation about the Critical Care Program.

This year’s presenting sponsor is PetSmart Charities®. Ticket information and sponsorship opportunities can be found on the PACC911website (http://pacc911.org/special-events). Bari encourages people who are unable to attend to donate to the event, and to continue to raise funds for the Critical Care Program.

In addition to providing urgently required medical care for Arizona’s most needy animals, PACC911 provides other programs to help the community. One of these is the Chuck Wagon Pet Food Pantry, a pet food bank.

“Chuck Wagon is a very important part of us. At all of our adoption events we encourage the public to bring food and bedding to donate to that division. These donations help low income pet owners avoid having to relinquish their pets because of an inability to feed and care for them. This way pets can stay in the homes they love.” Donna Barker, the founder of Chuck Wagon, runs the program and currently provides pet food for about 600 families a month. “The program is always needing donations of food, bedding, and other animal items,” Bari told PDM.

Another division of PACC911 is the charity boutique, Rescued Treasures, located in Paradise Square shopping center on southwest corner of 40th St and Thunderbird Rd (3841 E Thunderbird Rd).

“We have a fabulous inventory. When we first opened the store, we had high end boutiques donating their inventory, and that separated us from other thrift shops. Just this month we have rekindled those relationships and we now have top of the line inventory.” Shoppers could easily find Ralph Lauren or Prada, and a lot of designer couture. It’s pretty amazing when a shopper can buy a $2,000 item for $20, and that money goes directly to helping animals, Bari happily shared with us. She loves how beautiful the store is, that it doesn’t feel like it’s a thrift store, and with several restaurants in the shopping center, you can easily make a day of it.

Boutique shoppers can also drop off their donated items to give even more back to the animal community. Rescued Treasures is open Monday – Saturday from 10:00am – 5:30pm. It not only offers shoppers the opportunity to purchase unique items, and gives them the pleasure of knowing that they are helping animals in need, by supporting the Emergency Medical Fund. This fund is supported solely by PACC911 and is distributed equally to each of the 100 Coalition rescue groups. Each group can use the money as it sees fit, whether to cover medical costs, or the cost of boarding a dog that has been returned, until a foster home becomes available. The fund amount changes yearly, based on profits from the store, and from the annual Grimaldi’s “Pizza for the Pets” fundraising event and, of course, donations from the public.

PACC911 will remain at 100 rescue partners. There is a wait list to become one of the PACC911 partners. “At the end of each year we evaluate whether there are partner groups unable to remain with PACC911 due to any issues or lack of partner participation in our events. At this time, we can add new groups to the mix. These groups will be chosen from the wait list.”

When asked about the next two years for PACC911, Bari highlighted the fact that she wants to focus on bringing in more grants for the medical programs. “This is where our emphasis has shifted. In 1999, PACC911 set out to build a pet rescue community, to find commonality, to have a louder voice for the animals. The goal always has been to bring the community together, and we have done that through lots of networking. We have a solid community, and while that remains important, the medical care is necessary. We need continued funds to grow the program.”

PACC911 has also taken on a new program for 2017/8, PACC911’s Mercy Paws, which partners with Aetna’s Mercy Care program. Bari explained to PDM that there was a need to help those senior citizens in the Mercy Care program who are in assisted living facilities. “Those who have pets and have emergency situations where they must be hospitalized, can have their pets go to a PACC911 partner rescue group for a temporary time or, in some cases, to be rehomed by the rescue if the patient cannot return and care for the pet. We offer the owners peace of mind.”

In addition to everything that Bari and her organization do for Arizona’s animals in need, she also offers advice, and shares her story for other cities and states that want to replicate PACC911’s success. “I have consulted with Austin, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Missouri. I am more than happy to share, to visit by phone.”

Bari is willing to share what has made PACC911 a success so that another organization can take it and make it better and put its own spin on it. “I would love to see coalitions like ours in every city, because it makes a big difference, and it would help animals if we get the word out.”

Bari encourages everyone to check out some of the animals that have benefitted from PACC911’s Critical Care Program on their website (http://PACC911.org/critical-care-gallery). Read through the impactful stories to discover how PACC911 makes a powerful difference saving pet lives in our community. Click on the Donate Tab for more information on Rescued Treasures and the Chuck Wagon Pet Food Bank.

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