Saturday, May 31, 2008

Look What I Found!

Yesterday I was at work and went outside to smoke. I heard a kitty crying and crying, then I spotted her sitting under a bush. I called her, but she wouldn't come to me. She just kept crying and crying. So I used a little trick I'd learned reading The Man Who Listens to Horses by horse whisperer Monty Roberts. I went closer, then sat down with my back to her. Sure enough, within seconds, she was right behind me.

I scooped her up and went off to find my friend Debra to get some help. Little kitty was skin and bones. Her black fur is bleached out from being in the sun and she had stickers and burrs in her hair. She didn't struggle while I was carrying her, but lawdy, did she make a fuss with her caterwauling.

Debra was on her way out and I'd just missed her, so I went running around the third floor of her building yelling for her, accompanied by kitty distress signals. She heard us and came back. I was like, "Help me." We took little kitty into the bathroom so we could set her down and get a better look at her. I didn't want to abscond with someone's pet, so I wanted to be fairly certain she was really a stray. We decided she was.

On a Friday night, it can take me up to an hour to get home and I had nothing to put the kitty in for the drive. Debra kindly offered to let me borrow her carrier, so we left for her house. I put little kitty in the back seat of my car, where she stayed for the ride. Seriously, she didn't move a centimeter! She was clinging to the back seat for dear life.

On the way home, I called my vet's office to make an appointment to get her seen a.s.a.p. After I'd dropped little kitty off at my house, quarantined in the bathroom, it was off to the pet supply store. I have two cats of my own already, but I needed a litter pan, etc., for the newbie. I got her settled in for the night to await her vet appointment this morning.

I took her in this morning to see Dr. Edgar Church at All Cats Clinic. Dr. Church gave her a thorough exam. The very first thing he did was scan her for a microchip. We needed to be certain someone wasn't missing their beloved pet. There was no microchip. She has fleas, no surprise there, so we treated her for that. She also has a respiratory infection, so I have medicine to treat that. She tested negative for both Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). Yay! We're waiting for test results to see if she has parasites. Her respiratory infection is contagious so I'm glad I was able to get her seen right away. I'm being very careful to keep her quarantined and wash my hands and even, on the recommendation of Dr. Church, change my clothes after I've handled her.

The good news is, she's already been spayed! I would have had that done, too, if she wasn't, but I'm glad I've been spared that additional expense. Poor little kitty just needs some TLC. She's really sweet and cuddly, purring away when I pet her. She gets in my lap and she lets me pick her up and cuddle and pet her.

Since I have two cats of my own already and I'm a renter in a one bedroom apartment, I'm hoping to find a forever home for her. She's not going anywhere until she's healthy, though. With treatment for her infection and a good diet, I figure she'll be good to go in a week or two.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Nonprofit News

Yesterday I spoke on the phone to Maya Gupta, President of Ahimsa House. We talked for about an hour and she answered a bunch of questions I had as well as sending me tons of resources via e-mail! I've been stunned by the kindness, generosity and willingness to help of many people, and Maya is no exception. I really appreciate her taking time out of her busy day to provide me with information and sources of further information.

Ahimsa House is one of the very few organizations that specifically helps pets of domestic violence victims. Please consider donating to them, which you can conveniently do through PayPal.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Making Progress

Friday I applied to reserve the name of our nonprofit! It's so exciting to have something concrete done. I went through Attorneys Corporation Service. They were recommended to me and it seemed easier and less intimidating to go through them and let them deal with the Secretary of State's office. I believe it's faster this way, too.

Once I get confirmation that our name has been reserved, I've got my Articles of Incorporation ready to send in. I'll be using Attorneys Corporation Service for that, too. They say they can get that all settled much sooner than I could.

As soon as we're officially incorporated, I'll be revealing the name of our organization!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Speaking of Nonprofits...

I have the pleasure of working with a wonderful woman named Jenn Mueller. Jenn is the coolest! In fact, her fiance, Tony, did one of my tattoos.

Jenn has Type I diabetes, which, in her case, is particularly severe. She experiences life-threatening drops in her blood sugar levels on an almost daily basis. Jenn has done and continues to do everything medically possible to manage her condition, but it's not enough.

Fortunately for Jenn, an amazing organization called Heaven Scent Paws has put her on the fast track to getting a companion medical alert dog who has the ability to sense dangerous alterations in blood sugar. These dogs are very expensive to train. The organization isn't asking Jenn to pay for it, but they do ask the people who receive these dogs to engage in fundraising activities.

To read more about Jenn, her situation and her fundraising efforts, go here. Please consider making a tax deductible donation so that Jenn and people like her can have the life-saving companionship of a medical alert dog.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nonprofit Update

Before I talk about where I am in the process, I want to be sure to say that none of what I post is meant to be legal advice. I am not a lawyer! My intention is merely to share my experience. If applicable, please seek legal advice from an actual lawyer.

With that out of the way, things are moving right along. I picked a name! I'm not going to tell you what it is, though, until we're incorporated. Everyone will have to wait for the big reveal.

I've also drafted a Mission Statement. I'm waiting to hear from one of my Board members before it's official. Next up, Articles of Incorporation.

I've found some more online resources, too. Foundation Center has some good information. On the Nolo site, there is a little checklist of steps to take in forming a nonprofit. These include the following:

Choose a name.
File articles of incorporation.
Apply for IRS tax exemption.
Apply for state tax exemption.
Draft bylaws.
Appoint Directors.
Hold a Board meeting.
Get any required licenses and permits.

Also needed are an employer identification number, supposedly even if you are not going to have paid employees, a bank account, a fundraising plan and a (groan) budget.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Every Little Bit Counts

So far, I've read the first seven chapters of the For Dummies book about starting a nonprofit. My little highlighter is about dried up with all the things I'm highlighting!

We're still working on the name thing. You can't do much until you have a name for your organization. Incorporating and filing for tax exemption require a name, after all.

Part of my desire to create this new organization stems from my experiences with trying to help so many other organizations. There are so many issues in the world that need attention that trying to decide who to help and how can be overwhelming. I've mentioned some of the things I do on a regular basis in a previous post.

I receive and respond to e-mails from several groups or organizations. These range from animal rescue, environmental protection, endangered species, civil rights and human rights groups. I sign petitions and send e-mails to policy makers.

Bringing all this up isn't intended to brag about what a good person I am. Rather, it's to point out how much needs to be done and how many sad and unjust things are going on in the world right now. Of course I would like everyone who reads this to help me with my project, but more importantly, I want everyone who reads this to help someone with something. It's simply not okay to do nothing.

If all you can do is go to The Animal Rescue Site and click once a day to help feed shelter pets, protect the rainforest, promote literacy and more, (all at the same site), then do that. If you can give a little money to the charity of your choice, then do that. If you can give a little of your time to volunteer for the charity of your choice, then do that. Just do something, no matter how small. Even the tiniest action counts!

It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the issues that need to be addressed. While I intend to continue my e-mailing and petition signing, I have more of a focus now. I'm on a mission!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nonprofit Quest, Day Three

Starting a nonprofit is a lot more complicated than I realized! That's okay, though, I'm up for it. Part of my hope in posting blog accounts of my experiences is that other people will benefit from what I learn as I go along.

Yesterday, I focused on researching what I need to do to make this happen. has a whole section devoted to starting a nonprofit, which can be found here. While I found the site very informative and helpful, I also found it confusing and cumbersome. I had something like 12 different tabs open, all from links to the various first steps. I was frantically taking notes and trying to organize what I was taking in, when I realized this might not be the best approach for me.

Instead, I decided to visit my friendly neighborhood Barnes and Noble bookstore. There is just something about having all the information in one tangible source. A source I can highlight and write in as needed.

Barnes and Noble had several books on starting a nonprofit to choose from. I carried about five over to a table to decide which ones to purchase. I wanted to just get them all, but that was neither practical nor financially feasible. I compared the Table of Contents in all the books and also looked at publication dates and edition numbers. I wanted something thorough and recent. I also looked at the qualifications of the authors. I wanted to be sure they were well qualified to write about the topic and not end up with Joe Schmoe's Nonprofit Startup Guide. Besides which, these books are not cheap. I wanted to get my money's worth.

It took me about an hour of careful consideration before I decided on my purchases. I'm a fan of the "For Dummies" series, so I got Nonprofit Kit for Dummies. The authors have extensive experience with nonprofits. The book includes a CD with worksheets, checklists, links, samples and more.

I also bought Starting and Building a Nonprofit, A Practical Guide That one was written by a woman with a law degree. It also comes with a CD that has "all the forms you need." This book was published by Nolo, "Your legal companion." For those of you unfamiliar with Nolo, they have lawyers writing books and creating software and downloads to help with legal issues. Their website is fantastic, check it out Nolo.

I also spent some time yesterday brainstorming possible names with Debra. We came up with quite a few, everything from the practical to the ridiculous. We're in the process of weeding them out now.

I've checked the ones we're considering with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and searched for them at my state's Secretary of State website under both corporations and limited liability companies. I didn't find any of them, so all we have to do now is pick one.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Non-Profit Quest, Day Two

Yesterday I got the ball rolling on this non-profit thing. I e-mailed every person and organization mentioned in the original article. It’s amazing how responsive, helpful and supportive animal lovers are!

Allie Phillips of American Humane sent me a helpful manual and put me in touch with a friend of hers for more information. Phil Arkow, also of American Humane, sent me some useful links. Barry Yeoman, who wrote the article, also responded with sources of further information.

Christine Hartline of Rancho Coastal Humane Society, Jenison Silva of Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Lanie Anton of the ASPCA, Scott Delucchi of the Peninsula Humane Society, and Lara Bruce of American Humane all responded and sent information, links, encouragement and support.

I am grateful to all these people for taking time out of their busy days to respond!

I also received support and assistance from several of my Etsy buddies. Melissa of Muddy Horse Gallery was full of advice and support. She has a horse rescue of her own, where she rescues and rehabilitates abused horses.

Veronica of Surrender Dorothy and Her Royal Majesty Bags heard what I was doing and immediately thought to put me in touch with Melissa. Michele of Pandys and Griffin Gear, offered her accounting assistance.

Professor Tina Kistler and Debra Fondren of Santa Barbara City College have both offered help and support. Jessica Black of PrimalX offered the same.

As per usual, the members of the Etsy street team EAST have been supportive and encouraging. Specifically, Liz Staley of lizstaley, Michele of Greenfingers, Kari of LuckyLibra, Rachel of Indigo Luna and Melody of Melodys Unchained.

If you helped me yesterday and I have not mentioned you, please let me know! I was happily deluged with assistance of all kinds, so I may well have forgotten someone. If you’re reading this and you’re inclined to help, don’t be fooled into thinking I don’t need you. I absolutely need all the help I can get!

Right now, I’m working on reading the enormous amount of stuff I need to read to learn how to start a non-profit. So far I’ve discovered that I need a lawyer, and accountant and a Board of Directors. I also need a name for the organization, a mission statement and ugh, a business plan.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Helping Both Domestic Violence Victims and Their Pets

I just read a magazine article about battered pets and how fear for them can prevent victims of domestic violence from leaving. That article, and further research, show that abusers typically use violence or threats of violence against defenseless pets as a means to terrorize and control their human victims. The article was written by award-winning journalist Barry Yeoman. The full text of the article can be found on his website, here.

According to an article in the Washington Post, 48% of victims of domestic violence have delayed leaving because of a pet. The article further points to both Hurricane Katrina and California fire victims’ refusal to evacuate to safety without their animals as examples of how devoted to the care and well-being of their pets some animal lovers are.

Studies have unequivocally shown a link between the torture and killing of animals and violence against humans.

These articles really struck a chord. Rather than feeling saddened and depressed, I was inspired to make a difference.

My intention is to create a non-profit organization specifically to shelter pets of domestic violence victims, perhaps in partnership with women's shelters. I got up at 5:00 this morning to research starting a non-profit!

I am currently in the info gathering stage. I would gratefully accept any help whether in the form of advice, contacts, raising awareness, or something else I don’t even know I need. You can contact me regarding this issue at a special e-mail address I've set up,