Animal Education and Rescue Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Animal Education and Rescue (AEAR) is celebrating its 20th anniversary in September. The foster-based nonprofit humane society which serves Lake County and the surrounding areas has saved approximately 900 animals since its founding.
Sandy Kamen Wisniewski started AEAR to honor the death of her dog and fulfill a lifelong dream of rescuing animals on a big scale. While AEAR's usual rescues are dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds, Wisniewski has welcomed pet rats, sugar gliders, reptiles, hedgehogs, chinchillas, hermit crabs, chicken, geese and a duck to AEAR. "One of the funniest experiences was taking in a duck for 48 hours," said Wisniewski.
On average, AEAR has 40-75 animals in its care. "The number of animals we can take in depends on foster availability," said Wisniewski. "We have two major challenges. The first is finding foster homes. The second is finding animal hospitals that will work within our budget," she said.
While reminiscing about the past 20 years, Wisniewski says her most heartwarming story happened last year. AEAR rescued a pregnant, abused and terrified dog who she named Flower. When Flower gave birth, one of the puppies (also known as Flower's buds) was born without front legs. Little Blossom's prognosis was unknown, however, with 24/7 care and lots of TLC, she thrived. Blossom's story went viral and within a short time her Facebook page Blossom, small but mighty, had 7,000+ followers all over the world. Wisniewski and her husband Chuck adopted Flower and Blossom and they live happily ever after. Blossom often accompanies Wisnieski at fundraisers and adoption events. Their story inspired Wisniewski to write a book "Flower, Her Buds and a Special Little Blossom," available on Amazon.
Although AEAR is known in the community as an animal rescue, its main purpose is to educate and assist the public with animal-related welfare and problems. "We educate the public on animal care, resources and emergencies," said Wisniewski. "We also provide educational programs to the public in person and online."
Wisniewski's advice to those wanting to start a nonprofit animal rescue is to lead with your head and your heart. "Treat the business like you would any other small business and you won't run out of money or burn out easily. Always take time for yourself and never get fully immersed in rescue. Always have other things outside of the work in rescue so that you can be as balanced of person as possible. That'll help you keep your sanity and your friends, family and positive relationships. Be mindful not to look at all
people as being bad. As a matter fact, the more you focus on the positive people in the world ... the doers and the givers in the world, instead of the people that behave badly, the more you will live a healthier, rich, peaceful and joy-filled life."
As a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, AEAR relies on donations, adoption fees, fundraisers, fosters and volunteers. "I am so grateful for the support we receive," said Wisniewski.
To learn more about AEAR or view adoptable pets, visit. www.aear.org and follow https://www.facebook.com/aear.org.