ML - Vegas Magazine

2012 - Issue 7 - November

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Page 55 of 127

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF GALE The Animal Foundation kennel supervisor Amanda Baldridge. continued from page 52 theirs—at least temporarily. The 120-person staff is the only family they know, and that doesn't change on Thanksgiving Day. "We can't just leave the animals here and go on holiday," says Amanda Baldridge, kennel supervisor. While Lied is closed to the public on this day, the morning crew is there from 5 AM to 4 PM to ensure every dog, cat, rabbit, bird, horse, and reptile is taken care of. "Those with children or family gatherings leave around noon or 1 PM," she says. "We even have a few dedicated volunteers come in on Thanksgiving Day—they take the dogs on walks and give them biscuits." Because the shelter houses 50,000 animals over the course of a year, the staff stays busy. "Typically we are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve, but we'll still have employees here taking care of the animals," says Director of Development Andy Bischel. He adds that Lied is the highest volume shelter in the country and must be staffed 24 hours a day. An additional cadre of 800 active volunteers keep the shel- ter running; many of the animal-lovers who visit the facility with intentions of adopting end up getting so attached to the animals, they want to keep coming back to help. "People get " That 10 to 15 minutes it takes to walk a dog? That may be the first time the dog has been walked in its life. worried about volunteering—that it will be too sad—but it won't be," Bischel says. "That 10 to 15 minutes it takes to walk a dog? That may be the first time the dog has been walked in its life. That's special." Despite all the challenges, the foundation has a lot to be thankful for, including a highly supportive community, most recently including PetSmart Charities. "There's a new off-site adoption center, scheduled to open December 1 in conjunction with PetSmart Charities," Bischel says. "PetSmart paid for the space, cleaning supplies, and food. We are supply- ing the staff and animals." On-site, Bischel stresses that drop-in volunteers are welcome. "Most people who work here aren't here for the paycheck," Baldridge says. Volunteers' duties range from socializing the animals, photograph- ing them for the website, and assisting behaviorists and veterinarians, to fostering kittens and puppies. In 2011 alone, this added up to a savings of $185,833 of overhead costs for the Animal Foundation. "The most popular volunteer job is socializing dogs and walking them," Bischel says. "Volunteers arrive early, even before we open. We have a list, and they walk them through the Greenspun Family Dog Adoption Bungalows." Treats are great, but don't feed them turkey and trimmings: The dish isn't on the foundation's veterinarian-approved diet.—KC 54 VEGASMAGAZINE.COM Feeding the Hungry Gobble Gobble Give F or a lot of Americans, enjoying a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner just doesn't sit right unless they've helped others do the same. For the past three years, filmmaker Adan Van Dam, Las Vegas organizer of Gobble Gobble Give (GGG), has done just that, after a friend connected him with Barry Walker, the organization's founder. GGG was born in LA 14 years ago, when a then-homeless Walker was down on his luck, taking refuge in an abandoned apartment and cooking his meals using a socket that still had electricity. That Thanksgiving he noticed a homeless family was living in the home's unkempt backyard. "I remember watching them go about their daily routine that day and think- ing, Wow, someone worse off than me," Walker says. He was inspired to make them a Thanksgiving dinner with his life savings—$9.42—and offered up plates ("dinner rolls, canned vegetables, and other buy-one- get-one free items") to others around town in the same boat. He delivered nine meals that day. Over the next few years, Walker was able to pull himself up: He now owns several successful LA spas, and probably most notable of all, he went from being homeless to being a homeowner. But continued on page 56 "—ANDY BISCHEL, THE ANIMAL FOUNDATION DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

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