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2911 47th Ave N, St Petersburg, FL 33714

The Paw Street Journal - Summer 2017

A Message from the Executive Director

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill

I spent most of my professional career in higher education before I took on the role of Executive Director for Friends of Strays, and this has always been one of my favorite fundraising quotes. This quote has taken on a new meaning for me over the last several months as I’ve seen the impact that volunteers have on our shelter.

One of our volunteers, Victoria Rittenhouse, came to me one day and told me that she wanted to be more involved with FOS. After learning that Victoria has a ton of experience managing volunteers at a cat shelter she worked at before moving to St. Pete, I knew she could be a more integral part of our team so I asked her she would help us revamp our volunteer program. Victoria accepted the challenge and immediately got to work with Claire Wray, our Community Relations Manager, to completely rework our volunteer efforts.

After several meetings and tons of background work, we launched our new volunteer program, updated our application, created a new volunteer handbook with standard operating procedures, scheduled shifts, and expanded roles for volunteers. We kicked off the program with our very first volunteer open
house on June 24. We had a great turnout with people learning more about FOS and the ways they could contribute to our success. I’m happy to say that most of these wonderful folks came back to work with our cats and dogs and are already making a huge impact at FOS.

One of our new volunteer roles is the Happy Cat Crew. Some cats need extra attention and care for their mental well-being; this is where the Happy Cat Crew comes in. They work to socialize the cats who need this extra attention. Getting these special cats used to love and snuggles from people helps transforms them into happy sociable animals, which in turn helps them find loving homes.

I am proud of Victoria and Claire for all the work they did to revamp our volunteer program and am grateful to the wonderful volunteers who give their time to work with us to make life better for the animals in our care. Because of their efforts, we can continue our work to save the lives of homeless and abandoned animals in Pinellas County and beyond.

If you are interested in volunteering at Friends of Strays, contact Victoria at volunteers@friendsofstrays.org.


Dara Eckart
Executive Director, Friends of Strays

Wags and Whiskers: A Hepcat Ball

Wags and Whiskers is the first annual fundraising event for Friends of Strays to be held at the Duncan McClellan Gallery. This year’s theme is “A Hepcat Ball” and will feature swing music from the 30s and 40s, dancing, a glass blowing demonstration, a silent auction featuring the glass piece created during the demo, and a program highlighting the services we provide to the hundreds of homeless animals we care for and adopt each year.

Be a Sponsor for Wags and Whiskers: A Hepcat Ball

Help us raise the woof! By becoming a sponsor of the Wags and Whiskers, you’ll be part of a unique and fun activity that also helps Friends of Strays provide vital medical care to animals in need. The money raised will not only help pay for daily care and sterilization for our dogs and cats, but will also pay for emergency medical care and treatment of life threatening diseases like heartworm and parvo. We will save countless more lives of abandoned companion animals with your support.

Here's the link to find out more about Sponsosorship opportunities and to purchase individual event tickets - click here.

Peggy Grom Special Foster Fund

Peggy Grom has been a part of Friends of Strays for almost 20 years. She first learned about our shelter when she responded to an ad in the local paper for a pet photographer. It turned out she was the perfect fit for the position and continued to be the photographer for the shelter for 12 years helping our animals find forever homes through her creative photography. Peggy wanted to contribute in other ways to the success of the shelter and found her groove serving on the Friends of Strays Board of Directors and producing 8 of the fashion show/luncheon events that we hosted in the past. Peggy and her husband, Bill, are very active in the St. Petersburg community. In addition to their support of Friends of Strays, they are also actively involved with the Florida Orchestra Guild, St. Petersburg Opera Guild, Infinity (a group that helps abused children and adults), and The Queen’s Court which has raised millions of dollars for various local charities.

Peggy and Bill have also adopted a special needs cat from Friends of Strays. Zaria is a Norwegian Forest Cat who had been at the shelter for some time because she doesn’t interact well with people, this is due in part because Zaria came from a hoarding/breeding situation. She spent her entire life in a cage, unsocialized, and without love from humans. Peggy and Bill fell in love with Zaria and wanted to get her out of the shelter to see if she would do better in a home environment. After patiently working with Zaria for some time, Peggy and Bill decided to adopt and make her an official part of their family. While she still doesn’t like to snuggle with her human family, Zaria is settling into her new home and continues to make progress, getting closer and closer to her new family. After serving 9 years on the Board of Directors, Peggy recently stepped down so she could focus on her real estate business. The remaining members of the Board decided to establish a new fund in Peggy’s name to honor the commitment that she has made to Friends of Strays over the last two decades.

The Peggy Grom Special Foster Fund was created to encourage others to foster cats and dogs with special needs. Proceeds from this fund will help us cover medical care, daily care, and behavioral interventions for these animals so they don’t have to spend their lives in a shelter.

If you are interested in contributing to this fund, please donate today!  You can select the Peggy Grom Special Fund from the dropdown menu under the Apply My Donation To section on our donate page. Your tax deductible donation can easlity be made online and will go directly to the care of these special animals who need a little more love to find their perfect family.  You can also make it a recurring donation, and have the greatest impact on these very special homeless animals!

Friends of Strays Success Story

Success Story: Chandler, Phoebe, & Rachel

The Friends Puppies – Chandler, Phoebe, and Rachel were found at only 2 weeks old, covered in fleas and full of worms. Unfortunately, their mom was very young and didn’t know how to properly care for her puppies. She even tried burying Chandler alive. The puppies were rescued and brought to the FOS Shelter and were quickly given the best care possible. They were bottle fed, dewormed, and given flea baths, and finally had a safe place to sleep and could dream of a bright future. Our Executive Director took them home and cared for these sweet puppies while we searched for a foster to take them in. A wonderful foster family was found, and these puppies grew bigger and bigger in their care! The puppies learned how to eat on their own and soon they we’re ruling the house. The foster sent us progress pictures and stories, and let us know that they were falling in love. When the puppies were 8 weeks old, they came back to the shelter for their spay/neuter surgery, microchipping, vaccinations, and recovery. Phoebe was adopted by the foster family later that day while Chandler (soon to be Moose) was adopted by the brother of the foster. Rachel only had to stay one night at the shelter before she found a home with a good friend of the foster! We’re happy to say this story ends with a happily ever after.

“Fostering three puppies was unlike any experience I’ve had with animals. It was challenging, yet rewarding. It was hard work, extremely time consuming, sometimes very smelly, but oh so much fun! The snuggles made it all worthwhile! Watching three little ones grow stronger each day and end up as healthy as can be was amazing. These puppies had a rough start in life, but now are ready to tackle each new day and all the new smells that come with it. We were fortunate to find friends and family members to take two of the pups and we kept one. We are so excited to watch them grow into loyal dogs and make each day with their furever families a happy one!”Megan and Jason Kotsko, the Friends puppies foster parents

Coming Soon! The 2018 FOS Rescue Crew Calendar will be available for sale soon!

We just announced the Calendar Launch Party on Wednesday, Sept 6 at the bar Right Around the Corner. Click here for more info.

Friends of Strays asks you to Join the FOS Rescue Crew! Make a difference in the lives of homeless animals by making a small monthly recurring donation! As part of the FOS Rescue Crew, you will help us to save hundreds of dogs and cats each year. For medical care alone, an average of $150 is spent on each kitten, puppy, cat or dog from complete exams to spay/neuter, and vaccinations. With your help, we can ensure every animal is healthy and ready for its forever home!

Make a donation today!


Click to download a PDF of the Summer 2017 The Paw Street Journal printed newsletter.

This printed newsletter was mailed to our subscribers the week of August 15th. If you'd like to be added to the mailing list, please contact Dara Eckart at dara@friendsofstrays.org.