SUBLETTE COUNTY – The year was 2007 and the “boom” was under way.
Understanding that having a transient population would also mean a lot of people would move on – leaving their pets behind – Julie Land met with Suzi Kramer and proposed they do something about it.
That year, Happy Endings Animal Rescue was born with Kramer, Land and an all-volunteer board, Kramer recalled. One goal was to find unwanted or abandoned animals and give them good, loving “furever” homes.
“It was her idea and I said, ‘Well, I know nothing about getting this going,’” Kramer said. “Julie did the initial groundwork.”
The animal rescue idea had immediate volunteers to form a board and “foster” the homeless pets, brainstorming to come up with the same of Happy Endings Animal Rescue.
It started slowly with several cats who stayed with volunteers and that’s how it still operates today. There are now countless stories with happy endings.
Kramer remembers the first dog she fostered – Chevy – partly because he ran into a cabinet door and knocked it off its hinges. Chevy was soon adopted by a board member.
In the past 14 years, HEAR or Happy Endings has found good homes for an average of 100 dogs and cats a year, usually about half and half, according to Kramer.
“It depends on the litters when pregnant dogs and cats come in,” she said, which happens often in springtime.
Then and now, volunteers foster often-young expectant mothers, helping with their vet visits and making sure the pups and kittens are vaccinated. Eventually all are spayed or neutered. Happy Endings’ “fosters” are now spread across the county, provided everything they’ll need to care for the animals they take home temporarily. The animals adopted by these volunteers are jokingly called “foster failures.”
“We are countywide,” said volunteer coordinator Jess Artz, a board member since 2019. “We take in animals from everywhere all over the county. Honestly, we could not do it without our fosters. We are very thankful for them.”
One foster mom has three cats, one pregnant, right now.
“If cats are feral or need extra socialization, if they’re afraid of people, we have wonderful people around the county who take them in,” said Artz. “And dogs. We have a great group of ‘fosters’ but we’re always looking for more.”
Happy to help
Happy Endings has few adoptable dogs now so the rescue group is sponsoring several from Deep South high-kill shelters and other groups’ dogs on its website and Facebook page.
Artz recently updated both, posting the forms to relinquish or adopt homeless pets.
Sometimes it’s simply that owners lack time or energy for their animals or they are moving and can’t take them along. Sometimes an owner has died and the beloved pet needs a new human.
Interestingly, Kramer and Artz said few animals were relinquished during the past year’s COVID-19 pandemic. If anything, more people working and quarantining at home were interested in fostering and adopting an animal.
Another major goal then – and at the top of the list today – is a “furever” home for the nonprofit animal rescue. A place where the adoptable cats and dogs can be safe, warm and clean. All fees and donations go back into animal care. For years Happy Endings rented a Pinedale garage for storage but moved everything into a storage unit to save money.
“We’ve always wanted a facility but we’ve never had the finances to go out and do something,” Kramer said. “We’ve always talked about it – we just try and do as much as we can with what we have.”
For a while, Happy Endings shared Pinedale’s animal impound where people could drop in and visit with the dogs and cats. That was the closest it’s come to having a real facility.
Could a piece of land or an empty building work?
A building with heat, drains, concrete floors and room for five dog kennels might work out well, according to Artz. The Lander Pet Connection got its dream shelter with donated land and everyone pitching in to build it, they added as another possibility.
Socialized cats – like Branch, Fezzik and Westley – enjoy life at Creature Comforts, 269 Cole Ave. in Pinedale where people can visit, fall in love and take them home.
A place where people could come and visit with their cats and dogs would be much nicer and simpler, Kramer agreed.
To accomplish all of this, Happy Endings depends on its volunteers, fundraising and donations. Several summer events are in the works. For more information about Happy Endings Animal Rescue, call 307-367-7000 or visit https://happyendingsanimalrescue.org/.