BUSINESS MANAGEMENT: How Much is that Puppy in the Window

A dog is said to be man's best friend, but what would that dog be without a recycling center?

As a shift manager at one of the Ashland Sanitary and Recycling Centers in Ashland, Ore., Tim Church has found a way to integrate his professional and private life to better the animal community. Along with his everyday recycling duties, Church helps find families to adopt homeless animals. So far, he has helped about 100 pets find homes.

The arrangement began when Church, who donates his spare time to the Friends of the Animals Shelter, Ashland, Ore., a volunteer group dedicated to finding homes for animals, saw another volunteer occasionally take an animal to her full-time job. He later discovered that the volunteer was able to find homes for several of the pets using this method. Inspired, Church decided to try the same thing.

He asked Dan Murphy, the recycling coordinator for Ashland's recycling centers, if it was OK to bring a shelter animal with him to work. The center has a casual, low-key atmosphere, and Murphy didn't have any objections. Besides, Church was the only employee at the center during his shift.

“Several hundred people filter through that center daily,” Murphy says, noting that the center supports Church's efforts to find homes for animals. “It's a real humanitarian thing he's doing.”

Prior to bringing animals to the recycling center, Murphy says the shelter checks the animals carefully and provides the necessary medical attention and vaccinations. As word has spread about the adopt-a-pet recycling center, Murphy says people sometimes come to the center to drop-off recycling materials as well as visit the animals. This also encourages people to bring recycling materials on their next visit, he says.

According to Church, however, he has exhausted his bank of regular recycling center customers, and now depends on new visitors and word of mouth. But the increasingly smaller customer bank hasn't stopped Church from continuing his efforts.

“[Animals] don't move as quickly today as they once did, but I'm still pretty successful,” he says.

Karen Colangelo, director of advertising and promotion for the national American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), New York, says there is no way to know the precise number of animals in need of a home at any given time, but the figures are tremendously high.

“The statistics are frightening,” she says. “While many people volunteer their help, many more are needed. Although people affiliated with rescue organizations promote pet adoption through their professional and private connections, there are never enough doing so. If Tim Church is finding good homes for these animals, we certainly need many more people like him.”

“Having my employers and the community behind me makes this a combined effort of many people, not just me,” Church says, noting that he is hopeful his efforts will educate the public and bring a brighter future to some homeless animals. “I'm grateful to them all for their belief and support,” Church says.

Christina Dimartino is a New York-based free-lance writer.