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Pet Rescue by Judy erects new million-dollar animal shelter in Sanford

Nonprofit rescue group says the project was built almost entirely on community donations



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It certainly helps Save the Tails that Elliott-Rink is well-connected and well-educated enough to oversee the day-to-day while Sarullo manages the operations of the rescue organization.

“It’s not so much who I am,” Elliott-Rink says when asked how the organization has managed to attract such sophisticated attention from engineers, architects and even the city inspector of Sanford, Jon Davis, who checks in two or three times a week to coach Elliott-Rink and keep an eye out for potential hazards. “It’s who she is and what she stands for.”

Davis’ wife bakes them cookies. (Sarullo likes the peanut butter ones best.) A construction worker interrupts to inquire about yesterday’s project, laying a new line to tap into the sewer system. Elliott-Rink quibbles with him because nobody on site could answer her questions, and the worker responds to her mother-henning of the project with a nervous chuckle and genial protests. He’s in school and had an important exam that day. Any other time he’d have answered his phone. You can tell he means it, and even through what Elliott-Rink fully admits is her bitching, his response echoes the sentiment of the community when it comes to the facility’s needs being met: “I hear you, and I’m going to take care of it.”

“I know you will,” Sarullo says. “I trust you guys.”

On the day the concrete floor was poured, a mother dog who arrived days earlier from a high-kill shelter started pushing out her puppies. Excited, Sarullo flitted about the construction site proclaiming to the workers: “You’re all fathers! You’re all fathers!” The puppies were named for each construction company working on the project, and when it came time to adopt, not a single company could part with their pup. Now they all have company dogs. They say Sarullo has a knack for finding animals the right home, but her dedication to the animals reminds people that responsibilities don’t have to be dreary. And if you don’t have time for a pet project – or a pet – don’t take one on.

“Everyone has to fill out an application,” Sarullo says of her typical adoption process, which is more comprehensive than some shelters and rescues. “I have to know where they live, who they are, who’s going to be around the animals, who their vets are, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out, where it’s just not a good fit for the animal or the person. Sometimes the animal doesn’t fit with the lifestyle. I tell ’em: If you’re a couch potato, don’t get an Irish setter, and if you’re a runner, don’t get a basset hound.”

Elliott-Rink estimates the organization still needs $161,000 to complete the shelter. Interested parties and potential donors can contact her through the Save the Tails website, which includes a list of all of the project’s sponsors and donors.

“You know, we had this much money, and then of course, so much has been so graciously donated in help and labor and supplies,” Sarullo says. “But we still need a lot of money, because things come up that we can’t do ourselves that we must in fact pay for. So right now, it’s hard to be trying, and even with all the money we’ve incurred and saved, like anything else: We have to have more money. We need another big donor to come in and help us with all these extra things.”

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