It’s important to support animal shelters and “adopt, don’t shop.” Many shelters are overcrowded and underfunded, and it can affect the quality of life for pets as they wait for their forever homes.
It helps to put yourself in these animals’ shoes, trying to imagine what life is like for them. But no human knows this experience better than Kris Rotonda… because for ten days, he was one of them!
Kris is dedicated to helping out animal shelters. His involvement began in 2009, when he adopted a German Shepherd mix named Jordan from a local animal shelter.
Jordan became his best friend, and the dog’s love helped him get through a rough time in his life: “She saved me and changed a lot for me,” Kris told The Tampa Bay Times.
Last year, Kris came up with the biggest, wildest idea for a fundraiser: to spend ten days living in an animal shelter, experiencing life just like a rescue dog would.
He asked the Humane Society of Pasco County if they could make room for him, and while they thought he was nuts, they agreed.
“At first I said, ‘Is this guy crazy? Is this guy crazy?’ Because our kennels are outside,’ Christine DePaolo, Vice President of the Humane Society of Pasco County, told Bay News 9.
But Kris went through with it, spending all 10 days and nights living in a kennel, only getting out when the dogs were allowed to.
“I told the shelter, ‘Don’t give me any special treatment’,” he told Tampa Bay Times. “’Treat me like a German Shepherd.’”
The idea was not just to raise empathy for these dogs, but to encourage people to raise money for the shelter. He live streamed his experiences on his Facebook page and took donations through GoFundMe.
“[Shelters] are often overlooked,” Kris said. “I kind of wanted to wake up Pasco County and the community a little more and put myself in the position of these animals to understand how solitude gets to you and how to deal with it. It’s very difficult, and it gives you a different perspective.”
His mission wasn’t easy—he says with 50 dogs barking it was hard to sleep, and it was often hot and uncomfortable—but he stuck with it.
Amazingly, his plan was a big success: the shelter says that not only did they receive donations, but people started coming in to adopt.
“He’s helped clear our kennels out,” Christine DePaolo said. “They get adopted rather quickly after his live videos. Some come the next day, and we’ve had dogs that come to us and 24 hours later they’ve got a new home. And one day we had a donation of $1,100 waiting for us.”
By spending time with these dogs, Kris raised awareness of the struggle they’ve gone through, and what great dogs they are.
“They all have something very special about them,” Christine told Bay News 9. “And we’re lucky enough that Kris spends enough time with them for people to actually see that.”
Thank you to Kris for finding such a great way to help these dogs and raise awareness! Share this inspiring story!