Thursday, July 3, 2008

We Stand in Need

Our financial situation has become critical and we are earnestly seeking assistance in keeping the animals fed. We have depleted our reserves and utilized all available credit in an effort to survive this economic slump. If you are able, a tax deductible donation to the sanctuary would absolutely mean the world to us.

We have been caring for senior and special needs animals since 2000. With over 15 years experience in mortgage, Woody has experienced a great deal of success and, until this year, we have privately funded this passion and continued to grow our “herd.” There is certainly no lack of needy critters. We initially thought to become a non-profit primarily for the tax deductibility, not expecting to rely on outside donations, though they would be helpful. Today, they are absolutely necessary.

Mortgage has been very good to us. We could not foresee the current national crisis. Never did my husband expect that his loan production would drop off almost entirely. For several years, his closings totaled over 100, making him a top producer. Woody is unusual in that he didn’t employ the usual marketing tactics nor did he choose to “woo” Realtors into sending him business. He has been able to rely on referrals and word of mouth as he is truly exceptional in his field. For this reason, he has primarily focused on refinance loans. Herein lies a large part of our current challenge with the mortgage industry. Declining values make refinance nearly impossible as large numbers of people owe more than the house is worth. Even people with impeccable credit wishing to move from a 30yr to a 15yr loan have no available options. We have no regular foundation for purchase transactions. I believe Woody’s loan production for the first half of 2008 can be counted on one hand.

In late 2006, our good friend and CPA approached Woody with a proposal for Woody to join him in his growing business sales and acquisitions company, The Independence Group. This is hugely promising, but slower in developing than we all would have hoped. Woody has obtained his broker’s license in California and will soon also obtain licenses in Utah and Arizona. There is great hope for the future. I am grateful everyday that this opportunity has presented itself and am confident in their ability to make this work.

However, we firmly believed that mortgage would sustain us until The Independence Group was firmly established. We never imagined the current set of circumstances.

Some of you might be aware of Woody’s commitment to giving. This certainly plays into our current situation. For many years, Woody has practiced his own brand of tithing, believing that all giving is good and that it didn’t necessarily have to go to the church. Interestingly, he began slowly in the early 1990s, giving 2.5% at first, then up to 5%, 10% and so on. We have documentation illustrating that as his tithing grew, so did his income, almost perfectly in sync. He believed he had found the key and felt that he could not “out give” the universe. In 2005, Woody and I gave 25% of our gross income to others. There is not a Boston Terrier rescue organization across the nation who does not know his name, but he also gave to family and friends in need, as well. He LOOKED for opportunities to give.

Now back to the animals. You cannot imagine the satisfaction and joy from giving an old, tired, sad dog a happy new life. It is simply magical and we have witnessed many an amazing metamorphosis. Until now, we have not spared an expense for the cases that called for special care. On Monday, we lost our dearest Chihuahua girl, DeeDee, who survived more maladies than most could conceive and is likely our most expensive pup to date, with around $5,500 in medical expenses in just over two years. If you met DeeDee, you would understand why she was worth whatever was needed ~ she loved life and everything in it. Faith came to us with a bladder FULL of stones and died from cancer just five weeks after we got her. Five weeks with that sweet soul was worth the $2,500 investment in her care.

This last quarter, however, has forced us to take a hard look at costs and I am proud to say that we have been able to reduce our feed bills for the horses and livestock significantly – 22%. We’re driving a bit farther and the quality is not quite the same, but the animals are still fed well. Their individual dietary needs are met. We still cook for the dogs, though we now shop at Winco and are able to buy beef at less than $2 per pound.

A long time friend of mine, Guy Sutton, has been living and working with us for almost a year now, and we pay him a meager salary. There is a great deal of work around the ranch and Guy is too invested in what we do to go away. He gives much to our cause.

With the current number of residents and the associated care, it is not practical for me to return to the work force. There is no sense in running an animal sanctuary if the animals do not receive the care they need. Most days are 14+ hours and we don’t get away much. Opening up to the public as a sanctuary has added a whole new level of responsibilities and tasks.

Response to the sanctuary has been extremely positive, though total donations since our Open House on May 17 are less than $1,500. Even with our new buying routine, it costs close to $3,000 monthly to simply feed and give basic care (hoof trims, etc.) to our crew.

We have all been giving sincere effort to surviving this without asking for help. This asking is not something I’ve done before, which is likely why I feel such a need to explain ourselves so thoroughly. We have sold various items (saddles, etc.) on Craigslist, held a “yard sale” at the local auction yard, cold called local businesses seeking support, donations from companies that we have been buying from for years, and listed our spare ranch truck and Guy’s boat for sale. I would honestly sell my own car if I thought it would bring much (I drive a 1977 Celica). I’ve given up luxuries such as having my nails done and for more than a year, my hair has been done at a discounted rate done by a woman who gave up her old dog to us and a good friend who needed a guinea pig as he practiced hair for the first time. I’m at a loss for what more to do.

We are asking only for food for the animals. As animals die, as DeeDee just did, we will not replace them until things change. All unnecessary medical care is postponed until the Independence Group starts producing regularly and/or we can build a regular donor base.

Every little bit helps.

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