Judy Sarullo is on the move, again. But the energetic founder of Pet Rescue By Judy is used to this by now. She’s learned to make do each of the seven times she’s had to change locations as her pet rescue shelter, clinic and adoption center has grown, or in some cases been forced out of a neighborhood.
Now, standing inside a leaking building during Florida’s rainy season, she’s getting ready for her eighth.
But she has big plans for her tiny move just two miles north of her current shelter on Iroquois Avenue in Sanford. She’ll be right across from Sanford’s Paw Park Place dog park. She already has the new center’s two buildings for free, courtesy of an anonymous donor. But there’s a big catch: She needs $300,000 to renovate the buildings before she can move in.
“We’re going to have to do lots of fundraising and need lots of ideas,” Sarullo said.
On a mission
That’s another thing she’s used to. The growing organization has subsisted on donations for years to keep animals from going to “kill shelters”, which euthanize pets who take too long to be adopted.
That’s what Sarullo said she’s hoping to stop, on an even larger scale, if she can move into the pair of buildings totaling 9,000 square feet just east of U.S. Highway 17/92.
“It’s going to be a marvelous thing for the community,” she said. “It’s going to help stop the euthanizing of thousands and thousands of animals in our area.”
To do that, she said she’s hoping to attack the problem in two ways at once.
Though her shelter will offer a spay and neuter clinic, she said she’ll also be educating pet owners about sterilizing their animals to help cut down on pet overpopulation. That includes dispelling some old wives tales about how spaying and neutering can affect pets.
“The more we can educate people of the importance of spaying and neutering animals, the better,” Sarullo said. “They don’t get fat and lazy, they don’t stop being good watchdogs, or any of those things people say.
“But before they get spayed or neutered, their hormones are bursting at the seams. There are so many animals, four or five months old, having babies themselves, then they’re nursing six puppies or kittens or more, and then those don’t get fixed either.”
That compounding problem only gets worse, she said. It’s exacerbated by some other pet adoption agencies or clinics pocketing the cost for spaying and neutering animals, but then not performing the procedure.
“Rescue groups should not allow any animals to go out instead of being fixed,” she said.
“Some places don’t do it, so they can keep the money they’re charging people, then they expect the people to [spay or neuter their pets], and they don’t do it.”
Susan McCormick gets to see the result of un-fixed pets every day, helping foster animals for Pet Rescue by Judy in her home. Every morning, she’s awake to feed a litter of puppies that were left to fend for themselves. They’ll all be fixed, she said. Otherwise, the problem would multiply out of control.
She’s hoping that with a bigger facility and the clinic, they’ll be able to combat the problem better than ever.
“If people understood … she really needs money, and it would really help the community,” McCormick said. “You think about all the waste of these animals. They get spayed and neutered and that solves it.”
Once Sarullo moves into her new rescue shelter, she’ll be able to expand that spaying and neutering operation, but until then, she needs to raise $300,000 for renovations to the current buildings.
But the location next to a dog park and pet store couldn’t be better, she said. Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett agreed.
“It’s just a dog friendly place,” Triplett said. “Having her right next to it is a perfect fit.”
Sarullo said she hopes to move into the first building by December 2012, but that will depend entirely on fundraising.
The plans are already in place, with detailed architectural drawings created by friend Anthony Leporte, with the interior arranged by Sarullo’s longtime veterinarian, Dr. Anne Scholl.
That includes the clinic inside the front building, plus a 5,000-square-foot pet shelter in the back of the two-building complex.
With that level of capacity, she hopes she’ll be able to help even more animals.
“It’ll be in the thousands,” she said.
But even with such a lofty fundraising goal and big expectations, she said she’s ready for the challenge.
“I’ve got to admit it’s a huge undertaking,” Sarullo said. “We’ll be successful. It’s just going to take a lot of work. That’s the important thing — to save the lives of these animals.”
The roads will fill with the roar of motorcycles from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 28 when the Seminole Harley Owners Group partners with Pet Rescue by Judy for the Hogs Saving Dogs charity ride to raise money for the clinic and shelter. They’ll ride from the Winter Springs VFW to Mugshots Sports Bar in Altamonte Springs. Visit petrescuebyjudy.com for more details.