At the end of last year, we hoped that we had weathered the worst of COVID and things would continue to improve as we headed into 2022. We were optimistic that our major fundraising event, our Golden Gala, could be held along with our golf outing, reunion, and other events that help financially support DVGRR. And of course, we were hopeful that you, our adopters, supporters, donors, and volunteers would continue to believe in us and provide not only the financial but also moral, emotional, and psychological support that the staff needs to fulfill our mission.
As we reached the middle of 2021 and continuing through the end of last year, most of our intakes were dogs from breeders as the demand for “COVID dogs” started to wane. As we started 2022, that trend not only continued but it increased tremendously as four out of every five intakes this year – 81% – have come in from puppy mills and backyard breeders. We saw an increase in the number of breeder dogs that arrived as some of the breeders were starting to understand the drop in demand and no longer needed as many adults for breeding. As of the third week of November, we’ve had 339 intakes with another 20 dogs in the preliminary intake process. Fortunately, Zack Morgan, our Adoption Manager, and the Adoption Team have been doing an amazing job with adoptions, averaging 25 to 30 adoptions a month, with a record high 46 adoptions in August! The quality of their preliminary work in matching prospective adopters with available dogs continues to be stellar as our return-to-program rate is still less than 2%.
One thing that we pride ourselves on at DVGRR is that we are always looking for ways to stimulate dogs’ experiences while they are at Golden Gateway to help them prepare for their lives in their adoptive homes. Our Project Home Life program, spearheaded by our staff and trained volunteers, is the foundation for this approach. This year, as part of Project Home Life, we expanded those experiences to include an activity we’ve named Field Trip Adventures. Once we determine a dog’s social readiness for these adventures, they are exposed to being loaded in the car, the car ride itself, and being tethered by a seat belt harness or riding in a crate. As each dog’s social readiness increases, so do the experiences to include trips that introduce more people and new situations. An example of such a trip is to our local dog-friendly Lowe’s® Home Improvement store where the dogs get to meet other shoppers and Lowe’s employees and see a wide variety of items throughout the store. Of course, what would a field trip be without a stop for a pup-cup of ice cream at our local drive-in or Rita’s Italian Ice? Other recent destinations include Tractor Supply®, Petco® (where we must keep a close eye on the kleptomaniac dogs), and trails at Middle Creek Wildlife area, Nolde State Forest, and Denver Park where the dogs can “receive and send doggy messages.” Additionally, 2022 was the inaugural year of our college and high school intern program. This program allows college students and high school juniors/seniors who are interested in pursuing careers in animal welfare to spend time during their school days at DVGRR working under the supervision of Amanda Willey, Kennel PHL and Internship Coordinator, in Project Home Life, walking dogs, or helping with playtimes. This gives the dogs more opportunities for interaction with other people and allows the students to gain experience to make potential career decisions.
Another highlight of the year, while not dog-centric but equally important, was the strategic planning session by the Board of Directors and management team. Five years had passed since the last DVGRR strategic planning session, and we determined it was a good time to take on the endeavor, coming off the operational changes that COVID required for the past two years. We reviewed our mission and vision as well as potential changes in our environment for which we might need to prepare, including an influx or decline in the number of dogs needing rescue, our organizational structure, and/or systems and process. Strategic planning also promotes effective stewardship by holding DVGRR accountable to you, our supporters, donors, and volunteers. The major outcomes were a modified mission statement to include Golden-hearted dogs and support for the adopters and broader community. We established our “6 Core Values” that are now prominently displayed on campus and lastly developed a succinct, clear, commonly known vision statement: “Working together as a dedicated team to give every dog in our program the life they deserve.” Please know that you are a part of that team that helps us achieve our vision.
We were very fortunate to be able to hold our Golden Gala in April, hosting a record crowd of over 250 people. A great time was had by all who attended as we raised money for the hidden costs of rescue. And speaking of record attendance, our golf outing also hit that mark with 112 golfers enjoying a beautiful August day at Foxchase Golf Club with great food and prizes and having a lot of fun while supporting DVGRR. Inza Adams, Development and Donor Engagement Manager continued to engage people with creative and fun online auctions. We enjoyed our Creepy Carnivale-themed reunion this year, with people and dogs going above and beyond with their costume selections. And once again, your support was evident during a very successful 2022 ExtraGive!
As part of the DVGRR family, your support through donations, dog adoptions, and volunteering makes you an integral part of OUR success.
We invite you to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter and stay up to date with all the DVGRR happenings. Please know that we cherish your support all year long and are forever grateful that you are part of the DVGRR family. Each one of you, along with the staff, are a part of the reason that, after 28 years, DVGRR is still successful, continuing to grow and expand our programs for the dogs, and regarded as one of the leading Golden Retriever rescues in the country.
On behalf of the DVGRR Board of Directors and the staff, we wish you and your family peace and much joy this holiday season.
The DVGRR Team
John Plummer, Executive Director
Inza Adams, Development and Donor Engagement Manager
Heather Hatt, Manager, Lynne Glennon Sanctuary for Senior Goldens and Puppy Mill Survivors; Director, Project Home Life, On-Site Caretaker
Dennis Stauffer, Kennel Manager
Karen Whittaker, Accountant
Marie Redcay, Veterinary Technician
Zack Morgan, Adoption Manager
Jess Berrier, Assistant Manager, Lynne Glennon Sanctuary for Senior Goldens and Puppy Mill Survivors
Lisa Jagielski, Intake Manager, Life Skills Coordinator
Amanda Willey, Kennel Project Home Life and Student Intern Coordinator
Ashley Hartman, Volunteer Coordinator and PAP’s Place Retail Store Associate
Emily Plank, Veterinary Assistant