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Meet Amy Armenti of The Rescue House

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Armenti.

Amy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started volunteering with The Rescue House in 2008 after my husband and I adopted two cats from the group. They were an abandoned and bonded pair named Katie & Kelly.

They were siblings and had been up for adoption for over a year. They each had a litter of kittens that had all been adopted except that Katie and Kelly were still waiting for their forever home. I took one look at them and just couldn’t stand the thought of them waiting any longer. I went home and convinced my husband we needed two more cats (we already had two) and filled out the application the next day.

When I went to the adoption center to pick up Katie and Kelly after being approved, I ran into a Rescue House volunteer who just happened to be working her shift when I came in. During our conversation, I mentioned that I was looking for a good organization that needed volunteers. This particular volunteer happened to be moving and said they were looking for someone to take over her duties handling the monthly adoption fairs. I filled out my volunteer application and started the next month as the lead volunteer for monthly cat adoptions at the Carmel Mountain Ranch Petco.

I held monthly adoption fairs for many years and also got involved with fundraising for the organization. The first “A Cause for Paws” fundraiser was held 10 years ago in our home in Poway. We continued to host this annual fundraiser at our home until the attendance and interest became too large – which forced us to move to an offsite venue three years ago. We just wrapped up the 10th Annual “A Cause for Paws” on Saturday, June 9th at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay where 100% of the proceeds will go to the care of the cats we take in. We also raise money through eBay for Charity, peer to peer fundraising and grants.

As my time with The Rescue House grew, I naturally became familiar with many different cat stories. As such, the total number of rescue cats we have in our household grew from four (with the addition of Katie and Kelly) to a current number of twelve! We’ve adopted several older cats and cats that may have difficulties finding a home due to behavioral or health issues. With such a large number, we made accommodations for our house by building a 1,000 square foot outdoor enclosure that is accessed 24/7 from our master bath.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It is always very challenging for a non-profit to fund their mission, especially when the only source of funding is from donations and non-profit grants. The nominal adoption fee for a cat often times does not cover the cost to care for the cat or kitten until they are adoption ready. Our organization prides itself on opening its arms to kittens/cats that have been turned down by other shelters because of severe circumstances.

These circumstances are usually health related that require extensive and expensive health care. We have to constantly look for new and different ways to raise the awareness of the organization and engage donors. It is hard to set yourself apart in the competitive non-profit space. The most heartbreaking challenge is knowing you can’t help all the wonderful animals that need assistance. It can often be overwhelming but you have to focus on what you can do today to help a cat in need.

Another challenge for us is the fact that we are a 100% volunteer organization. Our volunteers are awesome with the time and commitment that is given, but for the most part, that time and commitment are only part-time as our volunteers have families and careers to support. We prioritize the best we can with zero salaried employees.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Rescue House story. Tell us more about the business.
The Rescue House is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to assisting cats through its rescue, foster and adoption activities. We find loving homes for unwanted, abandoned, homeless and abused cats. We open our arms to socialized, people-friendly cats that need assistance, regardless of age and often regardless of handicap. We find good homes for every cat that we take in. What sets us apart is we are a true no-kill cat rescue organization. Since our inception in 1999, we have rescued over 14,000 cats.

Another way that we are able to differentiate from other organizations is the fact that The Rescue House is a 100% volunteer organization. Although this fact creates a challenge as mentioned previously, this is a positive for prospective donors as nearly 100% of all donations go directly to the care of the animals. With no brick and mortar facilities and zero salaried employees, there are negligible overhead expenses. We have over 250 active volunteers in the organization.

They provide foster care for our rescued cats until they are ready to enter an adoption center, visit our adoption centers and take care of the cats, provide transportation for the cats, organize and plan the fundraisers and do many, many other important tasks that allow this group to help as many cats as we possibly can. These Rescue House volunteers are some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. Everyone is truly committed to improving the lives of cats & kittens in San Diego County and beyond. Each person in their own way is an advocate for the organization’s mission.

Our mission is to eliminate the need for our organization. We strive toward this goal through education to increase public awareness of responsible pet ownership and an aggressive spay/neuter program. Until such time as there are no more “homeless” cats, we will provide our service the best we can.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t know about “luck” per se, but I do feel very fortunate that both my husband and I worked for Qualcomm for a number of years. This allowed us to retire at a relatively early age which allowed me more time to devote to a non-profit organization such as The Rescue House.

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Image Credit:

Robert Hebble Photography

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