Noelle Fiore, Co-founder of Gimme Shelter Dogs:
“I left home when I was 14. Before that I dropped out of school in 8th grade. My mom never told me I shouldn’t. She was a narcissist and a drug addict, so ultimately everything was about her. It made me feel alone. I decided to get out of that house and try to make a life for myself. It turned out to be a guiding value to not be like my mother. I try to show up for people, and animals because they can’t advocate for themselves and they’re much nicer than people. And because people take advantage of them, exploit them, over breed them. They take them and if they’re not what they expected they throw them out. They’re impatient with them. They don’t give them the attention they need to develop as good animals. My dream is to have a ranch and lots of land where I can rescue animals and advocate for them and teach other people how to care for animals.”
“Six years ago I fell in love with a pitbull–my first rescue dog. I had never had a pit before. I was resistant because I was naive. My husband used to have one. We decided to get a mix between what I loved (a lab) and a pitbull. We found one (Delta–who ended up being mostly pit). I fell for her hard. She’s silly, affectionate, loyal. She gave me a new perspective about the breed.”
“Then just as things in my life were supposed to be beginning–I had just gotten married and finished dental hygiene school– I got diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer with a low survival rate. I had to stop working. I have a tendency to distract myself when I’m feeling anxious, so I decided to volunteer at a local dog shelter. The first day I was super nervous and overwhelmed, because I hadn’t spent any time working with dogs who had been pent up in a kennel for 23 hours a day. There was a lot to learn and hundreds of dogs. Oddly–I remember thinking that first day, ‘I’m going to help.’ I felt determined. I was trying to be outside of my own situation. Volunteering with dogs was something I wanted to do for a long time. I thought, ‘What better time than now?’ If I could focus my energy on something outside of myself that really needed me I wouldn’t fall into that dark, scary place.”
“There was a dog named Jules there. She was this big block-headed pitbull with her tongue hanging out. She’d been in the shelter for almost a year. I remember walking her and people would cross the street. I felt like, ‘oh, they don’t see what I see.’ Ultimately people are afraid of what they’ve been told. It made me sad that they couldn’t see what I saw. That was over four years ago, and I’ve been volunteering ever since.”
“Before COVID, a mutual friend introduced me to Tara. She volunteered with animals too. We talked about doing a fundraising collaboration but then COVID hit. There was an immediate need to get dogs out of the shelters before workers were forced to shelter in place. So we formed a partnership. We did our first brainstorm around raising awareness of the pressing need for fosters. I think it was (fellow Raddler) Lisa who suggested we do a video series about fostering shelter animals during the pandemic. Our videos started gaining recognition. We did another brainstorm to come up with our name (Gimme Shelter Dogs) and another for promotion ideas. We’re hoping to launch a podcast and eventually a subscription box to raise funds. We’ll probably brainstorm that too. If all goes well those will eventually help finance our rescue ranch, which no longer feels like a crazy dream, and it’s no longer just my dream. It’s our dream.”
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