SEMINOLE — Although it’s only been open for six years, FLUFF Animal Rescue has become a staple in the Seminole community.
Dedicated to the welfare of animals in Pinellas County, the nonprofit organization is now in need of help from community members to further its goal of creating a larger facility and new sanctuary.
“We are hoping to build an animal sanctuary right here in Pinellas County,” said Andria Gibbon, programs director. “We are looking for a 3- to 5-acre property that will house a larger number of animals from local shelters and other rescues.”
Gibbon also said FLUFF hopes to build a nonprofit veterinarian center, open to community for access to free vaccines.
FLUFF was founded in 2016 by Kimmy Chandler, who announced the launch of the organization’s capital campaign, A Safe Place to Paws, in April.
“Currently, the costs for proper veterinary care and prevention for the number of animals rescued by FLUFF have become a hurdle in our life-saving mission,” Chandler said. “FLUFF spent over $30,000 on three litters of puppies who were battling the parvovirus, diminishing our ability to save more lives.
“In an effort to control the veterinary costs for not only FLUFF but for others within the surrounding area, FLUFF is going to operate a nonprofit care clinic for rescue animals,” she continued. “This on-property clinic will be offering free vaccines to our community and discounted services to our partner rescue groups.”
The foster-based organization is based in an 8,000-square-foot facility on Seminole Boulevard, which also includes a thrift store.
The location also houses the heart of the rescue — rescue resource center, Gibbon said.
“We run the entire rescue out of this location,” she said. “Animals flow through here based on the availability of foster homes.”
While FLUFF does have a number of cats and dogs on-site, most rescued animals are sent to foster homes, where they can be monitored for behavior challenges, eating habits, and potty-training.
Those interested in adopting a cat or dog must fill out an application, and once approved, FLUFF will organize a meet-and-greet.
“We want to make sure the animal they are interested in is the right fit,” Gibbon said.
When the animals are ready to go home, they leave the facility in fit condition.
“No animal leaves us without being spayed or neutered, microchipped and up to date on all of its vaccines,” Gibbon said.
The organization’s biggest money-maker is it’s thrift store, which takes up the majority of the space at the 9400 Seminole Blvd. location.
“The thrift store is run on all donations with 100% of those profits going back into the operations supporting the animals and supporting the entire rescue,” Gibbon said.
Gibbon said the shop is a cross between thrift and retail stores, offering higher-quality items for sale, including bedding, furniture of all shapes and size, electronics, knick-knacks, clothing, shoes, jewelry and wall decor.
“It’s not a typical thrift store experience,” Gibbon said.
A new place to call home
Gibbon said the organization has found a property suitable spot for a new home but must raise approximately $1.5 million to secure it. In total, the group hopes to raise $3 million over the next 12 months.
“FLUFF has grown exponentially since its birth in 2016, and we are grateful for the opportunity to expand our efforts in Pinellas County,” Chandler said. “We hope that our partners, community and supporters will embrace and affirm our dream to save more lives.”
After all, at FLUFF — “From Lonely & Unloved to Forever Family” — no animal gets left behind.