One of the key elements of Dental Depot’s office culture is a sense of community and giving back. We pride ourselves on our service to others – but that service doesn’t just stop at people. Like Dental Depot founder Dr. Glenn Ashmore, many of our team members have a love for animals, too.
And while we believe that pets deserve the same level of preventative oral care as people, this year we made it our mission to help out an organization that’s doing a whole lot of good in the lives of Oklahoma animals: Free to Live Animal Sanctuary.
Our teams came together to raise funds for the shelter and Dental Depot pledged to match the donation total. On top of that, employees were encouraged to submit photos of their pets for an additional $1 donation per pet!
We received 174 photos. That’s $174 on top of our total!
Altogether, our employees raised $905 and with the matching by Dental Depot, we were able to donate $1,984 to Free to Live to help them continue their mission of giving animals the love and respect they deserve.
Check out some of our pets!
What makes Free to Live different?
Founded in 1984 by Bill and Pat Larson, Free to Live Animal Sanctuary is 20 humble acres of Oklahoma earth dedicated to cats and dogs who were stray, abused, neglected or abandoned, giving them a place to live out their lives with everything they need to be happy and healthy.
It’s important to understand that Free to Live is not a typical shelter. The animals who live on the property aren’t against a clock. Often they’re ill, old or have a behavioral problem that doesn’t make them a good candidate for adoption. Because of this, some animals are permanent residents at the sanctuary.
An animal could spend their entire life at Free to Live and never be adopted but they can still count on a full and happy life. And that’s what makes Free to Live different. Euthanasia is not practiced and half of the 300 animals who make their home at the sanctuary are seniors.
It takes a lot to keep Free to Live up and running. The nonprofit operates on a budget of about $80,000 a year and almost all of it goes immediately back into maintaining the animals. As such, they only have a minimal staff, so there is plenty of need for volunteers to step up.
Tasks can be as simple as petting or brushing animals to helping clean up pens and scooping litterboxes, and even answering phones when the staff is needed elsewhere on the property.
“It’s important for our animals to get used to people so we have volunteers who just come out and pet dogs and cats.” said Reagan Hamlin, executive director at Free to Live. “I’ve seen volunteers turn feral cats around. It’s like magic.”
“What appeals to me about Free to Live is that it’s different from any other rescue group or shelter in Oklahoma,” Reagan said. “We have the time and space to take on difficult cases and let their hearts heal at their own pace.”
Perhaps Simpson is the best example of what letting an animal rehabilitate on their own time can accomplish.
“Simpson came to us about five years ago. Construction workers found him with acid poured down his back,” Reagan said. “He was so fearful and only liked two people, but that was enough.”
“We brought him to this big dog walk and I’m sitting on a picnic table and here comes this big, black Pit Bull just running as fast as he can at me and I thought, ‘Great, I’m about to be mauled on Facebook Live,’” Reagan said. “But he jumped up onto the picnic table and comes face to face with me and just licks me from my chin to my forehead, wagged his tail and ran off.”
There aren’t many rescues that would have been able to give Simpson the time to come out of his shell after his trauma. He would have been labeled ‘unadoptable,’ and more than likely euthanized.
Here’s how you can get involved.
Signing up to volunteer is easy and can be done on the Free to Live website. The sanctuary is open every day to volunteers from 8 am to 5 p.m., except Wednesdays. Volunteers can be any age, but parents are required for anyone under the age of 14 and waivers must be signed for all volunteers.
But what if you don’t have the time to drive out to Free to Live and help in person?
“Monetary donations are always the best because they allow us to react,” Reagan said. “If we get a phone call in the middle of the night about kittens under a house, those monetary donations help because we can move money to the greatest area of need.
Because of generous donations throughout the year, Free to Live doesn’t have to make the choice that caring for an animal is simply too expensive. Donations make it possible to care for dogs like Sunny, a loveable Golden Retriever senior who spends his days lounging with other senior dogs in the air conditioned office annex. He has Cushing’s disease, diabetes and epilepsy. His medication alone costs $600 a month. But he’s happy and to the team at Free to Live, that’s all that matters.
No matter how you get involved, you’ll know that you’re making a difference in the life of an animal.
Short on time and money? Consider donating an item from Free to Live’s Amazon wish list. Items needed start as low as $5.95 and will be sent directly to the sanctuary.