Soila Vasquez long dreamed of starting an animal rescue.
And in 2017, she and Pam Fritsch did just that on two acres in the heart of Mesa that they dubbed the Furever Animal Rescue and More – using the acronym FARM for their certified nonprofit.
Right now, their sanctuary is home to five dogs, 50 feral cats they feed twice a day, a garage with an A/C and heater where they house 10 more they are nursing back to health, three goats, two 100-pound tortoises, a few turkeys and pigs, 10 to 15 ducks and seven chickens.
Their interest in rescue began when “we had numerous dogs on our property and three of them were pregnant,”
“We ended up with 15 puppies all at once. A friend of ours told us to reach out to a particular rescue, which we did, and they were able to help us.”
For the next two years, Fritsch and Vasquez fostered at two rescues, putting in a lot of time tending to goats, tortoises, chickens, ducks, geese and even pigs.
“We thought, why not do this for ourselves?” Fritsch said. So, they decided to form their own an animal sanctuary.
“People had always called us The Farm so we were trying to find a name. The Farm was already taken so we couldn’t use that as our legal name but we tried to find a name that spelled out FARM,” Fritsch said.
Their rescue dogs are in foster homes in Chandler, Mesa, Queen Creek and the SanTan Valley and they accept only owner-surrenders that are small or medium-sized because they’ve found larger dogs are difficult to find foster homes for.
“We do have a couple of rescues, including Love Connection Dog Rescue, that we refer large dogs to,” said Fritsch. “And a lot of the large-breed rescues will refer to us because we take in smaller dogs.”
Fritsch and Vasquez also have had to curb their dog intake for a while because they have been taking in a large number of puppies since August.
Adoption fees for puppies are $400, which includes a series of four puppy and rabies shots, spay and neutering and microchipping. The cost declines with a dog’s age.
“If somebody is interested in a dog, we get their email,” said Fritsch. “We send them an application. We review their application to make sure there are no red flags.
“For example, if I get an application and somebody wants a puppy but they’re gone eight hours a day, I’m not going to adopt to them because that puppy is going to sit in a crate for eight hours a day and they obviously need to be let out unless they have some kind of provision in place.”
Fritsch said that once an application is accepted, she sets up a Facebook Messenger thread with the prospective owner “that allows us to ask more questions, gain more insight and coordinate a time to meet the puppy or dog.”
Next, the pair sets up a home inspection with an eye on potential areas in the backyard where a puppy can get out.
“We have in our contract that they are inside dogs,” Fritsch explained. “And in our contract, it states that if we find out that somebody did adopt a dog from us and all of a sudden, they’re being made to stay outside, we have the right to go take our dog back.
“We also put in the contract they’re not allowed to use choke collars or prong collars or devices like that. If they do, I have the right, according to my contract, to take my dog back.”
FARM is a PetSmart partner and had been holding adoption events in its stores before the pandemic.
They’ve had an increase in adoptions as the pandemic has worn on, which they attribute to more people working from home.
But they’re a little fearful that as people return to workplaces, people will start returning their dogs. So far, only one person has.
“It’s a commitment,” Fritsch said. “It does take patience. It takes time. It’s not, ‘Oh, this cute little puppy’ and then six months later, when the puppy is no longer cute and fluffy, it doesn’t mean you give the puppy away. They need to be part of your family.”
“Many think there should be that instant bond and that the puppy will stay the same forever,” she said, adding that new dog owners may find it helpful to get the services of a good trainer to fix a behavior issue that might require little time to fix.
“When people adopt from The Farm, they’re always welcome to call us back or call the fosters with questions,” said Fritsch. “A lot of our fosters are great about staying in contact with people who adopt dogs.”
Information: Facebook @Fureveranimalrescueandmore or 480-869-1373.