Alaskan Animal Rescue Friends ( AARF) is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation.
AARF is a group of dedicated volunteers working to help the dogs of Alaska. We rescue, rehabilitate, and adopt dogs into loving homes. Most of our dogs come to AARF from rural communities through other rescue organizations such as Bethel Friends of Canines, but we also take in dogs from local animal control facilities, owner releases, and neglect and medical cases.
“I hear things about the abuse of dogs, but the words are so horrific that I can’t let them come out of my mouth.”
When Carrie Jaime talks about animal abuse and neglect, it becomes perfectly clear why someone would hang a sign in her office that reads, “You think I’m pretty when I’m mad, I’m about to get gorgeous.”
Carrie is the volunteer coordinator for AARF. She does not hold back her feelings about people who abuse animals or how passionate she is about the work that AARF does.
Carrie’s passion for rescuing dogs began in 2010 when she, with daughter Brooklyn, and son Cruz were helping a friend adopt a dog. The search for the perfect pooch led them to an AARF Adoption Clinic. While her friend was looking at dogs, Carrie and Brooklyn struck up a conversation with Bev Ausick, the director of the organization.
Until then, Carrie had no idea the depth of the problem and no idea of the number of unwanted and abused dogs or the horrific environment many endure. Her daughter learned of the hardships as well, “Brooklyn, listened a lot, she was young, only seven or eight years old at the time. But, she immediately wanted to know – and wasn’t afraid to hear the information that could sometimes hurt a child’s heart and soul. She really wanted to help the dogs.”
That day, Carrie and Brooklyn also learned how they could help.
Bev was impressed with how the kids interacted with the dogs, and the family began fostering. Over time, their volunteer involvement with AARF grew, due in part to Brooklyn’s passion and desire to help dogs in need of good homes.
AARF takes in dogs from all over the state – Barrow through the Aleutian Chain. Abbey Jackson, the Foster Coordinator, makes every effort to place the right dog with the right foster family. Carrie and her family generally foster smaller dogs or dogs with puppies. Others, depending on the size of the dog, yard, and other factors, can foster up to eight dogs.
Carrie reminds us, “Rescues don’t come in fluffy, cute and snuggly, and well trained. They come in with issues. They are a rescue dog for a reason. Most haven’t been trained, haven’t been loved, many times they have been neglected, are filthy dirty, have been abused, have no manners and have not been potty trained. You have to have the heart and compassion to accept that.”
There are a lot of volunteers that make AARF successful. “Nobody ever complains, we just do it. It’s messy, dirty work, it’s emotional. You get scratched, bit, pooped, peed and thrown up on…. You get it all. But that’s the way it is when you do something you’re passionate about. And, our volunteers have that,” says Carrie.
Her passion for the job shines through when talking about the volunteers, “It’s amazing to see what the fosters do. When they take a dog that’s scared to death, hiding in the corner, won’t come near us, doesn’t know its name, isn’t potty trained. He later shows up at the adoption clinic three weeks later, his tail is wagging, and he’s all plumped up and ready to go…. We have so many cases like that.”
When a dog is adopted, the foster family delivers the dog to their new home. This gives the foster family an opportunity to share information about the new family member and see the dog’s new home first hand.
Carrie explains that over the course of time the foster families develop a bond and a love for the dogs they are fostering. Sometimes it becomes difficult for a family to let a dog go. Often foster and adoptive families will keep in touch, meeting for play dates or sharing photos.
Being able to let go all comes down to finding really good homes for the dogs. When the right family comes along, it brings great joy to the entire AARF team. Carrie explains enthusiastically, “When a dog gets adopted, we take photos and celebrate.” She estimates that an average of 500-700 dogs are adopted per year through AARF. That’s a lot of celebratory photos.
Carrie’s days are full. She and her husband have three children and a grandson, and along with the volunteer work she does with AARF, she has a full-time job operating a successful property management business in Anchorage.
Many of Carrie’s friends and acquaintances tell her that they couldn’t do what she does, but she remains passionate, “How on earth could I not do something about it. When I see a dog being hurt, they don’t have a voice… I just can’t look at that and say I can’t take it and walkway, that’s just unheard of in my world. I see it and want to help it, meaning the situation. I’m teaching my kids the same thing, and my husband agrees with me.”
AARF holds adoption clinics every weekend in Anchorage or Eagle River. To find out where the clinics are being held, go to the AARF website: www.alaskananimalrescuefriends.org. Also, the website has information on how to volunteer to become a foster family.
Ed. Note: AARF relies on donations to support its efforts. Major contributors Everts Air Cargo, Bering Air, PenAir Cargo, and NAC regularly fly puppies and dogs for free or a greatly discounted rate into Anchorage from all over the state of Alaska. Without their support, AARF could not do what they do. ECHO Magazine thanks you for supporting AARF.