Gregg: How did you initially get involved with Friendship APL?
Ashely: I’ve been an animal lover for life. I grew up with cats and dogs being loving members of our family. So naturally, I started working at a local animal hospital as a teenager in high school. I continued to work in animal clinics for around 3 years before life led me down another path. Eventually, I found my way back to animal care, just in a different aspect. My fur babies and I had everything we needed, wouldn’t have asked for more and I just wanted to help those less fortunate. At the time, I worked full time at a hospital and attended community college so I could only volunteer on weekends.
I was born and raised on the Westside of Lorain County, inherently being familiar with the area where Friendship APL is located but other than that I honestly don’t remember what drew me to the shelter or how I ended up there. I do remember that I learned about their Volunteer Orientations, being held the second Saturday of each month from 10:00 AM to noon, which still happens to this day. So on January 8th in 2011, I attended the 2-hour orientation, took a seat on one of the metal foldout chairs in the ‘Education Room’ and happily filled out the application, signed up for their fundraising & event and adoption 101 classes. Executive Director, Greg Willey, was speaking to inform us about the sweat and tears that it takes to care for these poor animals waiting for their second chance, a new leash on life. He was soaked from scrubbing dog cages and eyes irritated due to his cat allergies. He and every other staff member or volunteer that spoke that day convinced me that it was exactly where I wanted, even needed to be. Back then, we actually had a small group that would meet at the shelter on Sundays to discuss upcoming events and organize them together. For the first few years, I solely volunteered for fundraisers and adoption events. I loved every moment! It truly warms ones soul.
Gregg: What are you primary duties there?
Ashley: When I was on the staff at FAPL, I was dedicated to coming in and cleaning cages and kennels for the first 2 1/2 hours of every day, because somebody has to do it. Where would the shelter animals be without us? The remainder of the day is meet & greets, adoptions, and miracles. The joy and comfort one feels when a dog or cat has finally met their human and head to a furever home is difficult to put into words. That’s right, they rescue us and we belong to them. They watch over us as our protectors and pals. We just don’t always know it. It’s the very stuff “warm and fuzzy” is made of.
I worked there during “kitten season.” It was this period when I was faced with the first kitten that I would foster. We literally had a wait list with hundreds of names and numbers on it, people wanting to bring in litters from stray or ferrel cats. Sadly, there is only so much we can do as a shelter. It is this time when hospitals, clinics, rescues, and shelters alike are all full with more infant kittens than there are hands to help them. This is a reason why fostering is such a necessity. This among educating the general public the importance of spaying and neutering their domestic pets. Fostering and donations are always appreciated. Friendship holds Foster Orientations on the third Sunday of the month at 1:00 PM, with special thanks to Foster Mom, Mary Cordray. My cat Ricky is proof that fostering saves lives. He was fostered by one of FAPL’s staff and I knew he belonged with me after I spotted him in the kitten nursery.
I have also ran transports, taking animals from one of the other organizations with little or no room left under their roof to Friendship. No city is too far when it comes to a pet reaching their destiny. This particular APL and the kind souls that run it, make an extreme concerted effort to bring animals out of the shadows of kill shelters, back in to the light, where they may be seen for their potential and recognized for their worth. Petfinder is also a pawsome pedestal for drawing attention to pets available for adoption. I have personally adopted from other rescues via Petfinder twice. My chihuahua/toy fox terrier Abby came to me through PAWS Ohio and one of my cats, Lucy was just 8 weeks old in a humane society Southwest approximately 1 1/2 hours from here when I fell in love at first sight again. Abby has grown into a brave little girl over the past 6 years. Lucy is incredible with her mitten paws with thumbs… She is a Polydactyl (aka Hemingway), she has extra toes on four of her paws!
Gregg: You’ve volunteered at seven consecutive Wags to Riches events. How has the function evolved in that time?
Ashley: Wags to Riches is still my favorite every year. I seriously wouldn’t miss is for anything. It started in 2010, with much credit due to Kristina Willey. Each consecutive year since, on the weekend closest to Valentine’s Day, it has been held at Tom’s Country Place in Avon. I have personally seen it grow into the successful fundraiser we both had the pleasure of witnessing this February. It is by far, Friendship APL’s most important even of the year. The astounding selfless feats that occur on this evening restore hope and faith in that there is good left in the world. I believe we are blessed to live in Northeast Ohio near so many people who give so generously. You don’t think it’s possible to exceed last year’s marks and then you see the records broken again and again. It really has evolved in the most positive ways imaginable. I am proud to say that I have been a part of Wags to Riches for seven years and counting.
Gregg: So how many pets do you have in total?
Ashley: Five. Three cats and two dogs. I live for the fun, laughter and love that my fur babies bring me. That is why I don’t think twice when it comes to getting my Miniature Pinscher, Ezekiel to the eye doctor or his allergist. As a result of an Amish puppy mill or backyard breeder, Zeke had developed full cataracts in both of his eyes by the age of two. He was much too young and still had so much life to live that if it was remotely possible, we would get his sight back. Thanks to Dr. Ellen Belknap at Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital in Akron performed surgery and gave him artificial lenses and regained his sight. Later, he would meet Dr. Emily Conway at VCA Great Lakes Veterinary Hospital, who successfully treated 3 corneal ulcers. He gets OcuGlo vitamins and other prescription eye meds daily for the rest of his life, but it is worth it to see the brightness in his eyes. He is also severely allergic to dust mites and takes Apoquel daily in addition to soothing baths and topical treatments. He is one happy, grateful pup.
Thanks for all you have done and continue to do, Ashley!