The idea behind the new Animal Rescue Association of the Americas (AnRAA) is simple: pull together as a community for the betterment of all. Of course, anyone who’s volunteered with rescues knows this is easier said than done.
Still, AnRAA cofounder and executive director Denise Sproul is undeterred. For years, as the founder of Cascade Beagle Rescue, she longed for a professional association that would create humane standards and a certification program that rewarded and promoted responsible rescues while isolating and deterring unscrupulous ones. Plus, Sproul believed that more animals could and would be saved if launching and maintaining a rescue group were made easier with the advice and help of veterans.
AnRAA offers cost-saving member benefits, peer mentoring and support for new rescues. The group also promotes humane education, legislation and increasing the visibility of volunteer rescue groups. However, the certification program is the core mission.
“That’s an enormous undertaking; it’ll take time, patience and much vetting among members,” says Ketzel Levine, AnRAA creative and communications director. “En route to that goal, we feel that every step we take, from peer mentoring to streamlining administrative tools, will enable groups to capitalize on each others’ wisdom and experience and focus on the task at hand: saving lives.”
AnRAA became a nonprofit in 2008, then officially launched with its new website in January. “We’re cruising toward 200 members and celebrate like fools over every one,” Levine says. Charter members include Rancho de Chihuahua Rescue, Paw Team, the Galapagos Preservation Society, TLC Canine Center and Pacific Northwest Pit Bull Rescue. Membership fees are on a sliding scale, beginning at $25.