Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Flores.
Mary, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Pitties and Company animal rescue has been a dream in the making for over twenty years. I grew up in a rural part of Alabama where people would abandon animals that they no longer wanted. Ever since I was a little girl, my family and I would rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome the abandoned animals that needed us. Rescuing animals was the central part of my life until I joined the Navy in 2009. While serving in the Navy, I continued volunteering at animal shelters and rescues and began fostering for several San Diego dog rescues when I moved here on orders in 2011.
I have always had a special place in my heart for Pit Bull-type dogs because the first dog my parents ever gave me was a Pit Bull puppy when I was eight. When I became involved in the San Diego dog rescue community in 2011, I quickly realized how dire the situation for Pit Bulls is in Southern California. Pit Bulls are the number one most euthanized dog breed in shelters and, with backyard breeders not slowing down on their contributions to the overpopulation crisis, I knew that they were the dogs that needed me the most. I focused all of my efforts on rescuing Pit Bulls for another San Diego Pit Bull rescue, but over time I wanted to do more. Although Pit Bulls needed me the most, there were other animals that still needed me.
How could I call myself an animal lover if I wasn’t willing to help out any animal, regardless of breed or species? That is when the idea for Pitties and Company was born: A Pit Bull-focused, all breed, all species animal rescue.
Even after coming up with the idea, I still wasn’t satisfied and wanted to do more. Although rescuing and rehoming animals is necessary, I wanted to find the root of the problem. I wanted to find the root, and pull it out. This led to Pitties and Company’s three-prong approach to animal rescue and welfare. Although our primary concern right now is rescuing (because we are so small and receive so few donations) our ultimate goal is to also have a spay/neuter voucher program that provides FREE spay and neuter services to low-income families in order to help prevent unwanted animals from being born.
We are also instituting an educational outreach program, with sessions designed to educate owners on how to tackle common behavioral issues that lead to dogs being surrendered to shelters in the first place. In early 2017, I filed the paperwork to incorporate Pitties and Company. We are a registered nonprofit in the state of California with our federal 501c(3) nonprofit status pending. This first year of operations has been one of joy, stress, triumph, and love, but Pitties and Company is my dream come to life.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Our first year of operations has been rough, and quite scary at times. One of the first dogs we rescued, Nibbles (an adorable Staffordshire/Frenchie cross) turned out to have a fully-dislocated hip that had been left out of socket for years. She had adapted to the injury well but still needed surgery before adoption.
As a rescue, we had not yet raised a single dime in fundraising or donations and were suddenly facing a two-thousand-dollar surgery bill. We managed to raise the funds and get her the surgery, only to find out during the surgery that she was pregnant! Nibbles had six healthy puppies, one of which is still looking for a home, but she definitely had a lot of surprises in store for us along the way.
We also recently had a kitten we rescued, Midnight, decide that piece of plastic would make a tasty treat. He had a several-thousand-dollar surgery and hospital stay and is still recovering from the perforation (while we are still recovering from his vet bill!)
The most stressful part of all came just a couple months ago when I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. When I founded Pitties and Company earlier this year, the C-monster had not yet announced its presence in my family’s life. Although I now have an amazing team of volunteers who contribute to the work that Pitties and Company does, I did not have the level of volunteer support that I had originally anticipated when I first founded the rescue.
From the time my dad received his cancer diagnosis until the day he passed was just two short weeks later. I had no time to prepare. No time to process that he was even sick before I was flying home to say goodbye to him as he took his last breath. Being the one person in charge of Pitties and Company while also dealing with the loss of my dad was unbelievably stressful and painful. Thankfully I now have the right volunteers on my team to ensure I am no longer the “single point of failure” in the case of emergencies.
Please tell us about Pitties and Company.
Pitties and Company is a Pit Bull-focused, all breed, all species animal rescue. As we are a foster-based organization, we are located throughout San Diego County. We primarily rescue abused animals from Tijuana, death-row dogs from Southern California’s high-kill shelters, and we also accept surrendered animals from owners who are no longer able to keep their beloved companion.
I think the thing I am most proud of as an organization is the team of volunteers that we have pulled together. Pitties and Company has entire families who all pitch in to help animals in one way or another. We have one family where the mother helps with fundraising, the dad volunteers to do adoption home checks, and the daughter has volunteered to help manage our website! Pitties and Company have grassroots, family vibe and all of our volunteers are so warm and supportive of, not only the work we do but also each other. These volunteers are sacrificing their time and resources to save lives- they are an exceptional bunch of people.
I think the single factor that sets us apart from other rescues is the volunteers and supporters. In many of our social media posts, I begin with “PAC Family,” and I do that because it really does feel like a family. We are a small group of people who just want to make this world a slightly better place in whatever way we can. Whether someone chooses to adopt from us, volunteer with us, or just follow us on social media, most people always comment on how warm and loving our rag-tag PAC family is!
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I think I would have focused more on fundraising in the beginning months. Since I am so passionate about helping animals, once all of our paperwork was filed and we went “live” on social media, I jumped straight into rescuing animals from bad situations. Although some people may find this commendable, it was also very foolish, and not a sustainable way to run a rescue.
In order to continue saving lives, we must have funds set aside for emergency expenses. Throughout the year, I have funded much of PAC’s rescue efforts with my own money, which will not be possible as we continue to grow. So, if I could roll back time to earlier this year, I would definitely focus more on fundraising to have an emergency reserve before jumping straight into rescuing animals with hefty medical bills.
- Cat/kitten adoption fee: $150
- Dog adoption fee: $250
- Puppy adoption fee: $300
- Website: www.pittiesandcompany.com
- Phone: 256-415-1845
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pittiesandcompany/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PittiesandCompany/
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