Tag Archives: animals

A Rotta Love Plus

A Rotta Love Plus

In school this past spring, my daughter was given an assignment to write a persuasive letter to her parents.  She attempted to persuade us to get a dog…I think she may have convinced her father, but not me or the cats.  Today’s organization is working to persuade people to understand two specific dog breeds: Rottweilers and pit bulls.

In 1997, A Rotta Love was founded as the first nonprofit Rottweiler rescue organization in Minnesota.  In 2003, A Rotta Love and a Twin Cities’ bit bull rescue named Pits Plus merged to become A Rotta Love Plus.  The organization is a comprehensive and proactive all-volunteer advocacy organization that uses multiple strategies to further their mission of re-homing Rottweilers and pit bulls in Minnesota, raising breed awareness, educating the public about responsible pet ownership, and advocating for the humane and equal treatment of all dogs without prejudice.  They are based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, but they serve the entire greater Twin Cities area.



A Rotta Love Plus has several programs that further their mission.  Their foster and adoption program takes a “quality-over-quantity” approach to carefully select the dogs that they bring into the program and the homes where they are fostered and adopted.  They also offer ongoing assessment and support for their dogs to ensure ongoing success for the animals.  They rehome approximately 30 to 40 dogs each year.

A Rotta Love Plus builds and foster strong relationships between dogs and owners through their Rott n’ Pit Ed training classes.  These classes, free to fosters and dogs who have been adopted through their organization, offer owners a variety of tools to ensure the right approach is taken for each dog as an individual.  They also offer a Dog Safety/Humane Education program that offers education to youth, adults, and organizations on the humane treatment of animals and reduces the risk of dog bites.  Between 2009 and 2012, this program reached nearly 4,000 individuals.  They also offer free spays, neuters, vaccinations in addition to low-cost micro-chips to pit bulls and Rottweilers.



This year they partnered with the Minneapolis Police Department, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, and the Minneapolis Public Schools to bring a Dog Safety program to local elementary schools.  In just one semester, they conducted 46 classes where a group facilitator and two or three volunteers with their trained pit bull or Rottweiler visit a classroom and educate student on the humane treatment of animals and reduction of dog bite risk.

Another program offered by A Rotta Love Plus is their PRIORITY Paws (Pit Bull and Rottweiler Interactive OutReach Instruction and Therapy for Youth) program where they conduct dog-therapy groups with youth in crisis who reside in local youth-services organizations.  The stories of abuse, neglect, and negative social perception of the pit bulls and Rottweilers provide the youth with a powerful parallel that often mirrors their own experiences.  This can inspire the youth and enable them to work through their own crisis using the lessons and skills that only the dogs can teach.  In 2012, their PRIORITY Paws program gave about 700 at-risk youth experience with this unique program.

Sara Nick, Communications Director for A Rotta Love Plus shared just one of their many success stories:

This is the story of Prim, a beautiful brindle pit bull. Prim endured the first couple years of her life in a heart-wrenchingly abusive situation – without going into the ugly details, suffice it to say that when she wound up in a local animal control, it was like heaven on earth. (Food! Rest! Kindness!) Eventually, Prim ran out of time at animal control, but two ARLP volunteers, who were freshly mourning the loss of their 10-year-old pit bull to cancer, decided to push through their heartache and open their home to another dog in need through fostering. ‘When we saw her face and heard her story, we knew without words that we wanted to save her,’ they said. As soon as Prim was in their car, ‘despite not having a clue where she was going, she was smiling ear to ear!’

Ever so gently, Prim’s new fosters took the time to earn her trust. They slowly introduced her to the sights, sounds, smells, and other animals of their household. Prim adjusted well (REALLY well) to their routine and lifestyle, so it came as no surprise when we heard the news not long after that they decided to make Prim a permanent member of their family. In their words, ‘Prim brought life back into our family. She will stop doing whatever she’s doing to come kiss us and let us hold her. She has so much love that she wants to give, and we want to be the ones to give her every success in life.’”



How can you help?

The organization’s greatest volunteer need is for foster homes which allow them to save a pit bull or Rottweiler and place them in a loving home until their forever family can be found.  Foster families are provided with everything they need to be successful, including food and supplies as well as free training and support.  Learn more about their foster program on their website.

A list of other current volunteer opportunities can be found here.  You can also give a monetary donation, including dog sponsorships. They also have a wish list of in kind donations.

You can also attend any of their adoption events.  On Saturday, August 10 from 4 to 7 PM, they have a “Beer and Dogs” event at Nomad World Pub (501 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis) where people will have an opportunity to meet some of the dogs they have available for adoption.

You can learn more about A Rotta Love Plus on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter or follow their blog.


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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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The Jumbo Foundation Elephant Orphanage

The Jumbo Foundation Elephant Orphanage

This week is my daughter’s birthday so I felt compelled to write about an animal organization since my daughter loves animals.  At a festival one summer, I rode an elephant with my daughter.  We got on to the saddle and held on for a short ride in a circle.  Just before the end of the ride, we passed the other elephant, who reached his trunk into the air and wiped it against my arm.  My daughter still tells the story of the time an elephant wiped his nose on her mommy.  Today’s organization is making a difference for these large creatures.

Jenny Webb has always loved animals and she has been rescuing animals since she was a child.  In recent years, she volunteered at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, an organization that works toward releasing injured wild animals, especially primates, back into the wild.  Jenny has also brought injured animals to their facility to be nursed back to health.

In February 2012 she received a call from a friend to say there was a four day old elephant calf that had been orphaned and was in desperate need of care.  No facilities in Malawi were able to take care of this little elephant due to the high level of care he required, the cost, and the small chance of success, so Jenny agreed to take the elephant, named Moses, herself.  Due to this one orphaned baby elephant and the absence of facilities in the country to take are of large orphaned or injured wildlife led her to form the Jumbo Foundation Elephant Orphanage.  Larger animals including elephants, rhinos, buffalo, and hippos require more funds to rehabilitate, very personalized care, and a quiet stress free environment.

Moses spent his nights in Jenny’s home sleeping on her floor and his days in the garden area of the property with either Jenny or his two keepers, Matimat and Jim.  Baby elephants cannot be left alone because they require bottle feedings every two hours and require warmth and protection from the sun that a mother elephant would typically provide for the first year of their life.  Unfortunately, Moses died after living with them for nine months.  You can read posts about Moses on the organization’s blog or watch a video here (note that some videos contain some graphic images).

The Jumbo Foundation Elephant Orphanage’s mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and return to the wild orphaned and injured large wild animals.  They are located outside of Lilongwe, Malawi in Central Africa.  They have also built up a close working relationship with other elephant orphanages in Zambia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe to share knowledge of animal husbandry, milk formulas, veterinary care, and more.  They also have close working relationships with highly acclaimed wildlife vets in Zambia, Kenya and the United States who are on call 24 hours a day for veterinary advice.

If elephant poaching continues at the same rate as 2011, wild elephants will become extinct within 12 to 15 years.  Elephants are emotional creatures and when babies are left to die in the bush, it results in a very traumatic and terrifying death.  You can learn more about elephants and their emotions on The Jumbo Foundation website or from the Unforgettable Elephants documentary from Nature.

Elephant with Ball

Volunteering with orphaned elephants is not recommended since they form strong emotional bonds with their keepers.  Also, the elephants need to retain their natural fear of humans to ensure they will still run away from poachers.  However, you can still help.

  • You can find options to make a monetary donation on the Jumbo Foundation website.
  • You can also find a wish list on their website of other items they need for the care of the animals or for the building of their new barn.
  • You can purchase art of Moses the elephant to help support their program.

To learn more about The Jumbo Foundation, please visit their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook.

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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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The Raptor Center

The Raptor Center

Most of the organizations I write about are places I have never visited.  In December, I visited today’s organization along with my family.  The Raptor Center was an interesting place to visit and an organization that has been ensuring the health of raptors since 1974.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Gary Duke, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, was conducting some research on grain-eating turkeys.  Dr. Patrick Redig, a veterinary student was working with Duke when four baby great horned owls offered them an opportunity to expand their research to avian meat-eaters.  Redig offered to care for the resident owls as well as other birds that they did not need for their research.  He also began to repair their injuries and return them to the wild, pioneering avian orthopedic and anesthetic techniques that are still used by avian veterinarians today.

Omaha the Red Tailed Hawk

Some of the birds were unable to be released back to the wild, so he used these live birds to educate the general public about raptor behavior, habitat, and threats to their survival.  Since their founding in 1974, The Raptor Center has become an internationally renowned education facility.  The Raptor Center has also made a huge difference for raptors including the Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project which helped remove the Peregrine Falcon from the endangered species list, a book named Medical Management of Birds of Prey that details medical and surgical techniques for birds of prey, a manual named Raptors in Captivity: A Guide to Care and Management that has been adopted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as their standard on captive raptor management, among many other accomplishments listed on their website.

In 2012, The Raptor Center received nearly 800 patients including eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons.  These birds are all raptors because they have hooked beaks, sharp talons, and sharp talons.  When we visited in December 2012, they had 52 bird patients.  One long term winged ambassador resident is Leuc, a male bald eagle that has called The Raptor Center home since 1983.  He arrived with a broken right wing.  It healed but left him unable to fly.  In 1999, Leuc was also treated for a cancerous tumor on his right leg.  Luec has served as an education bird at the center since he was unable to be released back into the wild.

Luec from The Raptor Center

The Raptor Center reaches over 250,000 people annually though their unique public education programs and events.  Anyone can visit the center’s facility for a tour and meet a variety of raptors.  In addition, some of the raptors go on visits to local schools and other events.

How can you help?

The Raptor Center provided me with a many things we can all do to help birds and the environment.

  • Get involved in local conservation organizations such as The Raptor Center or your local nature center.  The Raptor Center has volunteer opportunities including transporting sick or injured birds and helping in the clinic.  You can learn more about volunteer opportunities here.
  • Learn about the various species of raptors here.
  • Lead alternative ammunition will help reduce lead poisoning in bald eagles and other birds.  Click here to learn more.
  • Eliminate unnecessary pesticide use.  According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, approximately 50 pesticides currently used in the United States have caused bird die-offs.  Even the small amounts used by individuals on their lawns have a cumulative affect.
  • Modify your windows to help avoid collisions by adding screens, blinds, or bird feeders.  For examples and more information on this topic, please visit the Audubon Society website.
  • Properly dispose of toxic chemicals such as latex paint and items containing mercury.  Mercury is a potent nerve toxin, which is increasingly found in our water, fish, and loons.
  • Attend special events that The Raptor Center holds throughout the year, including its semi-annual Raptor Release, where rehabilitated raptors are released back into the wild.  You can watch their online calendar or sign up for their e-communications.
  • You can also make a monetary donation using a variety of options on their website or via their fundraising page on  In addition, there are opportunities to adopt a specific raptor.  You can learn more about raptor adoption here.

Owl from The Raptor Center

You can learn more about The Raptor Center on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and their blog.


Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Maddie’s Blankets

Maddie’s Blankets

Anyone can make a difference.  However, it is sometimes hard to find an organization that has volunteer opportunities for young kids.  Today’s organization was founded by someone who struggled to find a way to give back, so she made a way.

When Maddie Pelgrim was 10 years old, she was looking for somewhere to volunteer but could not find opportunities for kids her age except for fundraising.  She had “no allowance, no job, and hadn’t won the lottery, so clearly fundraising was not [her] thing.”  She was very persistent and found a job cleaning animal cages once a week with her mom for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation.  This was not her ideal way of giving back, so she kept her eyes open for other opportunities.  One night she noticed that the cats had just a thin towel or pillowcase to sleep on.  She was curious if this was comfortable so she climbed into a cage and curled up.  It only took her about five seconds to know that she was going to make a difference for these animals by making blankets for them.  Since its founding, Maddie’s Blankets has expanded to also make blankets for children in foster care and transitional housing situations.

Maddie’s Blankets is based in Oakton, Virginia and has a mission to provide kids, senior citizens, and disabled individuals an opportunity to perform community service.  In 2009, the organization became a 501c3 nonprofit as a gift to Maddie from her grandfather.

As of March of 2011, Maddie’s Blankets has donated 8000 blankets in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, California, and Kansas by working with Girl Scout troops, church youth groups, and other community groups.  She expects to reach 10,000 blankets in December of 2012.

Maddie has received numerous stories from those who have adopted animals from a shelter that received a blanket along with their pet as well as thank you letters from the rescue organizations.  One such note posted on their Facebook page said “Thank you again for the beautiful blankets that our rescue puppies just love! It’s a little piece of home that goes with them when they get adopted.”  One young girl dragged her mother to the location that received the blanket she made until she found it in a cage.  Then she called Maddie and said, “I found my blankets – this is totally awesome.”  In addition, the police officers, foster care organizations, and low-income daycare providers who have given Maddie’s Blankets to children all rave about them and request more.

How can you help?

  • Monetary donations are accepted on the organization’s website.  One hundred percent of the donations go toward purchasing fleece for the blankets.
  • If you live in the Oakton, Virginia area, you can contact Maddie to offer your help preparing the blankets.
  • Groups can also volunteer to assemble blankets.  Maddie will travel to make blankets with your group.  She has gone to senior citizen homes, churches, Girl Scout meetings, and other places where people want to volunteer.
  • The organization also accepts donations of fleece.  If you have fleece to donate, you can mail it to PO Box 447, Oakton, VA 22124.

You can learn more about Maddie’s Blankets on her website,  You can also follow them on Facebook and contact Maddie via e-mail.

Related Posts: Doing Good Together, Habits of Kindness, and Volunteen Nation


On December, 19, 2012, Maddie’s Blankets received their 10,000th blanket!  Below is a photo of Susannah Bianco, the maker of the 10,000th blanket with Maddie Pelgrim, the founder of Maddie’s Blankets.

10000th blanket

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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Earth Rangers

Earth Rangers

My daughter loves animals.  She has been reading about animals since she was old enough to read.  She loves all animals so when I saw today’s organization I immediately thought of her.

Earth Rangers is a Canadian conservation organization for kids based in Woodbridge, Ontario.  The organization was founded in 2001 and is focused on communicating a positive, science-based message on the importance of protecting biodiversity.  Their programs, including a children’s website,, a television presence, and a School Outreach Program, educate children about the threats facing animals and their habitats.  These programs allow Earth Rangers to reach, inspire, and enable millions of children each year to take action to help ensure the lasting survival of species in Canada.

The Earth Rangers Animal Ambassadors are the live animals featured in the School Outreach Program that visit over 550 schools across Canada annually with the organization’s Wildlife Biologists.  The program includes an animal demonstration in front of a full school assembly focusing on the natural science as well as the challenges facing Canadian biodiversity today.  The program inspires students to learn more about animals, their habitats, and protection of biodiversity.

The Animal Ambassadors call the Earth Rangers Centre home.  This building was designed to embody the Earth Rangers values and inspire everyone who walks through its doors.  The building is certified LEED Platinum for Existing Buildings utilizing advanced green building features such as energy monitoring, solar generation, green roofing, and geothermal heating and cooling.

Earth Rangers also has a kid-powered conservation program called Bring Back the Wild.  This program is design to help protect endangered animals in Canada by raising funds to purchase, restore, and protect their wild habitats.  Since launching the program in September 2010, over 150,000 children have registered to help protect animals and their habitats.  The Bring Back the Wild program allows children to visit the Earth Rangers website to learn more about the threats to a species and their habitat, and then create a fundraising campaign to help make a difference.

Some kids have done so much to make a difference, Earth Rangers have featured them as Super Rangers.  Some recent Super Rangers include:

  • Natalie and Haley who are selling cakes to save wildlife,
  • Alex who is selling chocolate chip cookies to save Caribou, and
  • Veronica who started an Earth Ranger Club at her school.

How can you help?

  • You can encourage the children in your life to visit to learn more about the threats facing animals and their habitats.  You can also help them create a Bring Back the Wild fundraising campaign.  Families can support children by getting involved and helping them to raise funds to meet their goal.
  • Children and adults can also hold an Earth Rangers themed birthday party to raise funds for wildlife.
  • There are also opportunities for corporations to get involved through the Corporate Volunteer Program.
  • There are also opportunities to make a donation on the Earth Rangers website.
  • You can also follow the Earth Rangers blog to stay updated on their work and organization.   

You can find out more on their website,  Their children’s website can be found at  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.


Related post: One More Generation


Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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World Bird Sanctuary

My daughter loves birds – well actually animals of all kinds.  So, when I came across the World Bird Sanctuary, I knew I needed to do their profile. 

The mission of the World Bird Sanctuary is to preserve the earth’s biological diversity and to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments.  They use education, propagation, field studies, and rehabilitation to fulfill that mission.  They have over 300 acres and over 200 animals in their care in St. Louis, Missouri, making them one of North America’s largest facilities for the conservation of birds.   

In 1977, Walter Crawford Jr., the founder of the World Bird Sanctuary, started his work with birds of prey in his own backyard.  From there, he helped injured raptors and taught local neighborhood children about birds of prey.  If didn’t take long and Walter was faced with the dilemma of where to safely house and work with the several raptors he had taken in.  A lucky encounter with Dr. Richard Coles, the Director of Washington University’s Tyson Research Center in Eureka, Missouri  led to an agreement to use fifteen acres at the research center to continue the mission for helping native birds. 

Since then, The World Bird Sanctuary has been rehabilitating sick and injured birds of prey, and breeding endangered raptors for release, including peregrine falcons, barn owls, coopers hawks and Andean condors.

The World Bird Sanctuary has a variety of volunteer opportunities including working at the visitor center, assisting with field studies, clerical work, and even working directly with the birds.  There are also opportunities for junior volunteers to assist with daily chores in the education and animal management departments.  Visit their website to find more details about these volunteer opportunities.  There are also many group opportunities, including assisting with large events such as World Eagle Day, National Trails Day, and their Annual Open House event.  You can contact them at to learn more.

As with most organizations, the World Bird Sanctuary also accepts monetary donations via their website.  You can also find additional opportunities to help on their website, such as a wish list, by clicking the “Support WBS” button on top of their website

You can learn more about the World Bird Sanctuary at their website,  You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or their blog.

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Posted by on July 6, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Majestic Hills Ranch

I was one of those little girls who always wanted a pony. I told my dad that we could fit one in the garage. Now history repeats itself – my daughter wants a horse too! Horses seem to have the power to make people smile. Today’s organization uses the magic of horses to help put smiles on the faces of children and veterans.

Majestic Hills Ranch (MHR) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides reputable, safe, and enjoyable therapeutic riding to children and young adults with special needs, and rehabilitative services to injured Veterans.

Jackie, the granddaughter of the Foundation’s Chair Kim Howard, was born with Recurrent Respiratory Papillomas – a disease of the airway. Her feisty spirit kept her going even though her life expectancy was expected to be short. When Jackie was 6 years old, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and had an operation to remove the lower right lobe of her lung. She then underwent various chemotherapy treatments which disabled her greatly. Jackie ached all over and could no longer walk or lift her legs. This was when Kim Howard thought of therapeutic horse riding to loosen Jackie’s muscles. Once she was placed on the horse, she was again smiling, and even seemed to forget the pain and her disability while riding. In just about four weeks Jackie was not only walking, giggling, dancing, and roller skating down the street, she was riding every day and gaining more confidence and strength than ever! Jackie lived to 19 years of age before lung cancer took her life, but the animals helped her keep her strength and spirits up.

After her experience seeing all the physical, emotional and social benefits of riding therapy, Kim Howard decided to create the same advantage for other children who face difficult challenges. In 1997, Majestic Hills Ranch, 106 acres of beautiful rolling hills located in scenic Dakota County, Minnesota was purchased. In 1998, a Board was formed, and in 1999, MHR gained was granted a 501(c)(3) status.

Their mission of the children’s program at MHR is to provide children and young adults with special needs the opportunity to achieve a sense of freedom, accomplishment, and self-esteem while giving their families hope. They help children and young adults with physical and emotional challenges, chronic illness, or symptoms of abuse or neglect, enjoy their lives to the greatest degree possible.

Throughout the years, the ranch has been able to expand from the original, single 12-stall stable to what it is now with the generous support of various foundations, companies, and individuals. It has become a fenced-in, outdoor riding arena with a wheelchair ramp and seating for parents and siblings, all adjacent to the parking lot. There is also a picnic area, bonfire pit, a hay wagon that accommodates wheelchairs, and a small petting zoo.

The stories of the children who have been through the program at MHR are amazing! Children with Cerebral Palsy who came to the ranch with bodies so twisted that they need to be tied into their wheelchairs. At the end on one 25 week long season, their bodies become so straight and strong that many are able to learn how to walk. Autistic children who are mute have started talking and learned social skills.

In 2010, MHR established a “Heroes on Horseback” program. They have made the commitment to bring the benefits of equine therapy to our Veterans who have sacrificed so much. It is a small way of helping repay them for all they have given and all they have lost. The goal of the Heroes on Horseback program is to engage Armed Forces Veterans and their families in a variety of recreational and therapeutic equestrian activities designed to achieve measureable behavioral, cognitive, physical, psychological, and communication goals.

In the future, Majestic Hills Ranch wishes to have an indoor arena that would enable them to provide service year-round and not be controlled by Minnesota’s inclement weather.

Volunteers are important to MHR. They use approximately 200 volunteers each year to work with the children and Veteran’s. These volunteers commit approximately four hours per week. There are opportunities for individuals with and without horse handling experience. There are also opportunities for groups to come out and do ranch chores, paint, and work in the gardens. MHR also needs volunteers to help with events that are held at the ranch.

As with any organization, monetary donations are also greatly appreciated. You can make donations via or PayPal at MHR’s website

Learn more about Majestic Hills Ranch at their website, You can also become their fan on Facebook.

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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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