Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Mike Andrews

“No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.” – Anonymous

Meet Mike Andrews, a conversation with FOMP volunteer and dedicated Pet Rescuer. The Heart and Paw of Pet Adoption during “Love Your Park.”

Sadly, The Friends of McMichael Park are unable to offer their Pet Adoption this year due to the cancellation of Love Your Park/Spring/2020. Mike organized this event for McMichael Park the past three years.

Many shelters aren’t allowing volunteers inside because of the pandemic, but animals are still coming in and need homes. ACCT and PAWS and smaller rescues still need adopters and fosters, and are suffering financially like everyone else. Money is tight for everyone, but if anyone has any to spare, don’t forget the homeless animals.

Below is the republication of an article about Mike and Love Your Park/ McMichael Park that appeared in April 2019.

Love Your Park 2019 at McMichael Park will be hosting a pet adoption from 11:00am to 1pm on May 11th, (rain date May 18th) with thanks to Friends of McMichael Volunteer Mike Andrews. Mike is the organizer for this event. He can often be seen about McMichael Park and around town with many different dogs. Mike sat down for a Q&A as he discusses why he’s involved, why he loves his canine rescues, and why you should stop by the pet adoption in McMichael Park.

Mike, with your evident love of dogs and rescues, are you a pet owner?
I had a dog growing up, but I moved around a lot in my 20’s and 30’s and never had a pet of my own as an adult. When I bought my house in East Falls with a little fenced yard I began to think that maybe it was time. I wasn’t sure I was ready but the decision was made for me. Friends of mine found a stray dog and were unable to keep him, so they asked if I would hold him for the weekend while they looked for a permanent home for him. That weekend turned into 14 years with Rufus, my best friend and constant companion.

So is that how you got involved with pet rescues?
It kind of happened gradually. Having a dog seems to attract other dogs. We found an unusual number of lost dogs around town and managed to return them all to their homes. We dog sat for friends who traveled for months at a time, and so Sandy joined us. We fostered a dog that was adopted and later found her way back to us, and so we added Pearl to our family. It just seemed logical that we could help others find homes for these lost animals.

And how did you manage to incorporate your pet rescue initiative into your lifestyle?

I began volunteering after I came across a little article in a fitness magazine about The Monster Milers, a group that runs shelter dogs to give them exercise and give them a release from the stress of kennel life. This also provides socialization and exposure they need to find their forever homes. When I realized they were located in Philadelphia I decided to join them. Animal rescue is a community, so once you get involved you tap into a network of conscientious and meaningful people. Through the Monster Milers I developed a love of working with these animals that had fallen on hard times and got to know other people with the same passions. Someone puts out a call for help with a particular situation, and the community comes together to try to find solutions. I guess it is a lifestyle.

What are some of the challenges you experience?
I sadly lost both Rufus and Pearl within two months of each other, and the emotional grief of the loss led me to want to do more to help other dogs in their memory. I was asked if I could drive a dog from the local shelter to an outside rescue that was willing to take him in. I had no idea that there was such a thing, but I said yes. I discovered that there was a whole network of people who did these urgently needed transports every day. The overcrowded city shelter relies on rescue groups with available space to take many of their dogs before time and space run out. While the rescues are happy to help when they can, they often have no way to pick up the dog from the shelter, and so Facebook and other social media platforms enables volunteers to come together to arrange transportation. It’s so amazing and gratifying to see the dog relax and change in just the short time you are driving them to their new life. Dogs that seemed terrified of me when I was putting them in my car were licking my face by the end of the ride.

And there must be some successes! What do you find most gratifying?
The urgent requests are the most satisfying. There have been a number of dogs whose time had unfortunately run out and needed to leave the shelter that night. I’ve arrived several times with only minutes to spare. Other animals have had life threatening medical situations that needed immediate transport to the Vet, and I’ve literally saved a life. Moyo was a sad case that had a severely injured leg and needed to leave the shelter for care immediately. I rushed over, picked him up, and drove faster than I probably should have to an emergency vet in South Jersey. The rescue director was very thankful for the quick response and we’ve kept in touch. Not long after she called me to ask if I could provide temporary foster for an extreme medical case. What was initially supposed to be a two week stay has become permanent, and now we have Benny Van Gogh, the one-eared wonder dog! Now that’s a success!

So with the prospect of sadness from losses and emergencies, why do you continue?
Once you become involved in rescue, it develops a life of its own. People find out you are willing to help and you quickly become the go-to resource. I often hear from friends who have found a dog, have a friend who needs to re-home their pet, or are looking to adopt and want advice. While it was never part of the plan, I’m grateful for the chance I’ve had to contribute in some small way to saving lives and setting many animals on their way to a better future.

Questions: Please contact Mike @ Iammikeandrews@gmail.com.