“That’s Daisy and Opie, Donnie, Holly, Macey and Lovey, in the kennel is Huckleberry…”
And that’s Abby Hall, president of the Kenai Peninsula Animal Lovers. Eight of the dogs listed are permanent residents. Oh, two cats, too.
“That’s Peaches. She was rescued from a party where they were writing on her with a Sharpie,” Hall said, referring to the creamy orange purr machine vying for attention with her eight canine siblings.
In her life beyond animal rescue, Hall owns a salon. She and one of her clients, Kelly Keating Griebel, have been talking for years about wanting to start an animal rescue organization — someday.
“We want to do it when we retire,” Hall said. “That’s our dream, our retirement dream. But you just see so much need that you can’t really wait that long.”
Someday became last year. They recruited more friends and other animal lovers who joined the cause in December. By April, KPAL was an official nonprofit organization and started finding homes for rescues.
“Last year, January, February, I bet we saw 50 or 60 puppies get sent to the rescues in Anchorage and the Valley. And it was really important for us to be able to do that down here to find them homes locally,” Hall said.
So far, they’ve found homes for 54 puppies, four dogs, 20 cats and have five foster animals currently looking for homes.
They partner with the Kenai Animals Shelter, coordinate with other rescue organizations and are big supporters of the Kenai Peninsula Spay and Neuter Fund. The unfortunate fact is there are far more animals in need of homes than any one organization can handle.
The shelter isn’t a great place for puppies and kittens, so KPAL deals with a lot of those. At the moment, Hall is fostering a litter of six puppies.
“Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the boys, Faith, Hope and Charity are the girls,” Hall said. “They’re going to be pretty big dogs. They’re English shepherd, and dad’s from a good neighborhood, I think.”
They’ll be available for adoption in three weeks, but not to just anybody. Potential adopters need to apply and KPAL does a background check and home visit before approving a placement. All animals must be spayed or neutered when they’re old enough. And you don’t always get to pick your new pet based on the cute picture you fell in love with.
“The approved applicants get to come to what we call puppy speed-dating. You don’t really get to apply specifically for a puppy. You get to come to an adoption event, you get to see their personality rather than just choosing them based on their looks,” Hall said.
The process is more strict than you’d find at a shelter, but KPAL is committed to not contributing to the issues they see in the community — like puppy mills, abandonment, animals being rehomed over and over again.
“They’re selling these puppies just to make sure that they get a good home and then people are like, ‘Oh, this could be a business,’” Hall said. “And then they’ve gone from just trying to ensure that they go to a good home by charging a price to, ‘I’ll have another litter,’ and so they’re perpetuating the problem.”
But there’s only so much KPAL can do. Ultimately, KPAL would love to have property and a facility to house animals in need of homes. For now, Hall says the group desperately needs more foster homes.
“You need to be able to open your home,” Hall said. “There’re barn cats out there who need a place, there’s litters of kittens — so many litters right now that they’re overwhelmed, all of the rescues are overwhelmed, the shelters are overwhelmed. And it’s coming up on puppy season. Everybody’s going to want a puppy for Christmas and then they’re going to be rehoming.”
There are many other ways to help. The group needs donations of pet supplies. They also need volunteers to help assemble a storage shed. And, of course, money goes to many uses. KPAL has a “Fur Ball” fundraiser Saturday at the Duck Inn. Tickets are sold out, but donations can be made through kpalrescue.org.
For more information about KPAL, including pictures of animals up for adoption — they’re also on Facebook at Kenai Peninsula Animal Lovers Rescue.