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Rotary Happenings: ARC serves as local no-kill shelter for canines, felines

By Staff | Apr 18, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED On April 6, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club's guest speaker was Kathy Rotterdale, a volunteer with the Animal Refuge Center in North Fort Myers.

Well it isn’t Friday, if I’m not getting up fairly early and heading to my Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meeting. Believe it or not, I enjoy every meeting because we have some great speakers on a variety of topics that it makes you think about how dedicated and passionate many of our fellow Lee County residents are in serving our community. We hear about a wide spectrum of non-profit organizations and activities all worthy of respect and attention for the work of their remarkable professional staffs and for their amazing volunteers, who give their time and effort to causes that are so important to the quality of life for all beings living here in our community.

On April 6, our guest speaker was Kathy Rotterdale, a volunteer with the Animal Refuge Center in North Fort Myers. Rotterdale’s love for animals drew her to ARC and she has since become an active board member.

ARC began as a hope for an alternative to euthanasia to deal with the problems of unwanted healthy animals and advocate the prevention of cruelty to animals. Incorporated in 1988, it is a not-for-profit animal welfare society, dedicated to caring for all homeless animals brought to its care at its 22 acre sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to more than 400 cats and 75 dogs. ARC receives dogs and cats from other animal shelters in the county that have not been adopted and cannot be held at the facilities any longer. ARC also receives surrendered animals whose families cannot take care of them any longer.

Animals that are placed with ARC go through a 10-day quarantine and evaluation period. Medical treatment, socialization and behavioral training, and basic obedience is available for all the canines providing an attractive attribute for those who wish to adopt a pet from the rescue center.

Donations, fundraisers and grants help pay the mortgage and maintain the property, pay a small staff including a medical staff, house and feed the animals, provide medical treatment, and train canines with the hopeful end result being that the rescue animals are adopted and find forever loving homes with qualified individuals. Rotterdale mentioned that Sanibel and Captiva residents and businesses lead the way in donations to ARC; one donor from the islands funded the recent construction of a welcome and adoption center.

The love and attention the animals receive at ARC is outstanding. Volunteers are essential to ARC’s success. ARC has cared for and found homes for thousands of animals over the past 20-plus years.

Presently, there are 10 main buildings housing felines: The Gable Village, The Ekstrom Cottage, The Harley House, The Mary Williams Kitten Cottage, The Casa Marie, The Casa Luis, the Dixie D, Aeries Place, Maises Place and Beesley’s Hide Away. In addition, there are five small cottages where cats are often placed for their introductory period.

The Krieger Canine Village, McAllister Park and ARC Park are composed of 39 air-conditioned dog lodges for anywhere from one to two dogs to reside. A doggy door allows them to go in and out of their lodge at will into their own play yard that has an awning for shade and a child’s pool for wading. There is also a 2 acre fenced-in park for the dogs, where they can run and exercise, along with an indoor canine training center.

The dog and cat residents at ARC like it there, but they would like to find that special home that is meant for only them. “Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.” – Dalai Lama

If you are thinking about getting a new pet, why not check out ARC’s campus in North Fort Myers after all, it has somewhere around 300-plus cats and 75-plus dogs to choose from.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are always welcome to attend.