COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gigi’s is a first of its kind shelter in the nation and in the first year of service it has helped to save hundreds of lives.
The shelter acts as a middleman, pulling dogs from rural shelters and transfers them to high adoption facilities, but they do a lot more than that.
Their goal was to save 1,000 dogs in the first year. They’ve exceeded that and have managed to help 1,100. They don’t just move the dogs to safety, they provide expensive medical care.
Now, they’re taking their goal a step further to benefit the lives of rescue dogs by renovating the poor shelters they pull dogs from. They hope if the buildings are clean and in better shape, the dogs staying there will have better outcomes.
“They don’t care what they go through. They love you unconditionally,” said veterinarian Haley Hadden. It’s one of the reasons she works for Gigi’s.
“Being able to help those dogs even if they are strays and they don’t have owners and they’re injured we can give them the love, support and the care that they need.”
Three days each week the shelter pulls 30-40 dogs from a rural, or what they call, source shelters. They bring them to Gigi’s where they receive the medical and dental care that they need before transferring them to high adoption facilities in Columbus and Cleveland. Their first year was a busy one and at times hard to witness.
“We’ve seen gunshots. We’ve seen wounds, a dog got a stick lodged in its neck.”
Hadden has removed eyes, done dental procedures, and performed countless spay and neuter surgeries. All of which are things source shelters cannot provide.
“We have provided 25 hundred dogs at source shelters with shots and medicine in addition to the 11 hundred we took on, and we provided over 300 surgeries,” said Jim Pheiffer.
Not every dog will make the trip up U.S. 23 to Gigi’s and that’s why there is now another mission to fix the rural shelters where those dogs will stay.
“The boost they got really made my day,” Pheiffer said.
Jackson and Lawrence Counties don’t receive much funding for their shelter. Gigi’s fixed up Jackson County and are working on Lawrence County now.
“We’re trying to see if we improve their shelter, because they do need some help there financially and physically, will it help improve the outcome of the dogs.”
The goal is to set an example for other shelters and hopefully change the landscape of rescue.
“My hope is ultimately we continue to grow, and that people start to take notice of us, so we win grants to help fund the place and help other people in other states maybe do something very similar.”
Gigi’s was made possible by a local couple who donated millions of dollars to build it. Grants will help to keep the mission alive. Soon, Gigi’s will have a behavior facility which will help fearful, shy, and anxious dogs have a better probability of being adopted.