You know the situation: you’re at an animal shelter, surrounded by the most adorable puppies and kittens all begging you to take them home, you’re heart hurting as it leaps from your chest into each cage… you want to live with them all.
Meet Mr. and Mrs. West, a couple that have done just that. Not only have the Wests rescued over 50 animals from animal shelters, but they also live with all of the animals that they rescue. In their house. The best part of the story? They get most of the support for their animalistic endeavours by getting all their friends and family to shop for them through Goodshop. They’ve already raised over $1,200 for their adoption nonprofit, All Paws West, through Goodshop and show no signs of slowing down. Given their success, I decided to interview them in order to talk tips about online shopping for good, and what it’s like to live in a dogpile.
Goodshop: I can barely wrap my mind around living with over 50 fuzzballs in the house. How did this all start?
Bruce West: We started by helping out a dog or two who were turned away from local shelters for medical or behavioral issues. Over time, the shelters caught on and began calling us when they had animals that would be put down. Now we work directly with shelters that aren’t equipped to have long-term residents.
So, you guys are actually adopting all these unwanted animals?
Yup, they’re all our pets! Our home becomes their home. We have misfits of all kinds: cats who can’t use their back legs, dogs who need to wear diapers, and others who require more intensive surgeries.
That’s incredible. How many do you currently have roaming your house?
We have 14 dogs and 38 cats living with us right now. There are animals everywhere. When you’re eating, they’re eating with you. When you’re napping, they’re napping with you. It’s a lifestyle.
And I’m assuming your neighbors hate you?
Laughs. None have complained yet.
How big is your real life doghouse?
It’s a two-story and the yard is separated into three fenced in areas. The cats are upstairs, the medium dogs are on the main floor, and small dogs in the basement. We want them to feel like they’re at home because this is where most live out the remainder of their lives.
So, what were you doing before becoming the animal shelter pied piper?
Living in New York City and working in financial services. Still do. At the time, we only had two small dogs, but my wife started taking in rescues. Now she thinks I’m the one brings home too many animals.
Seems like you’re a good pair. It must get expensive taking care of all these pets. How do you raise donations for All Paws West?
Everyone who wants to help out, I steer towards Goodshop. I explain they can help with just a couple seconds and it doesn’t require a lot of money or time to just do something you’re going to do anyway. They ask “How can i help?” and I say “Goodshop for us!”.
Thanks for the constant plug! Do you Goodshop yourself?
Yes! I usually buy my clothes online and everything for All Paws West. We are always in need of food, dog beds, and flea meds.
How did you spend your Goodshop check last year?
Food, vet services, cat furniture and care supplies. It goes into our general fund, but it definitely helped out. With 50+ animals at our house, we spend on average $30 a month per animal for healthcare and food. If it’s a bad year, like last year, we end up spending about $70,000 in total out of pocket. Any donation helps.
Treats for everyone! Have you learned anything from shopping for good?
I learned there is a community out there doing good and people are more receptive to raising free donations than writing a check all the time. Most of our supporters are local friends and family, so we don’t want to constantly solicit donations. That’s why having people raise through Goodshop year-round is perfect for us.
I’m so glad it’s working for you! Do you have any final words of inspiration for other nonprofits trying to raise money on Goodshop?
There are stores for for everyone on the website, so every nonprofit can make it relevant to their supporters. And with a little bit of time and effort you can make a big difference.
To learn more about All Paws West, visit their website and choose them as your nonprofit to support on Goodshop!