Here’s a friendly challenge for you: Take a ride over to Madison Thrift Store and Boutique on Slaughter Road, ask to meet the store’s new “mascot” Cocoa, and try not to smile from ear to ear.
This little girl has quite the triumphant story, which is what Madison Thrift Store and Boutique (i.e. A New Leash on Life) is all about: giving at-risk animals a chance at finding a loving, forever home while making it as affordable and pleasant of an experience for all involved parties as possible.
A New Leash on Life (ANLOL) started in 2004 and expanded to Madison in 2019. This organization has two key elements that go hand-in-hand: the life-saving element and the thrift store element, the latter which funnels all of its proceeds back into the life-saving side.
Denise Phillips, the Madison location general manager, shared that they’d known for a while that “this area had a huge animal rescue need.”
Phillips explained that the Slaughter Road location (one of three north Alabama locations) is primarily home to the thrift store component, though they are working hard to build a facility that can temporarily house rescued animals that are waiting to be fostered and adopted.
“People can feel good about donating their items here,” shared Phillips. “This store provides us a way to constantly provide medical care to these animals.”
ANLOL’s thrift store – called Madison Thrift Store and Boutique – primarily operates thanks to volunteers, which allow the proceeds to save as many animals as possible.
“Volunteers are so, so needed here. We try to tailor our volunteer opportunities to each person. If you like to organize or decorate, we have a need for you. We have electronic volunteer work that we need, as well as a need for someone to run our cashier and organize the items throughout the store during the day.”
Phillips says that she tries to find each volunteer’s area of interest and pair him or her with a fulfilling area of service.
A New Leash on Life’s Rescue Efforts
Phillips shared that “we are pulling from any and all high-kill centers in north and central Alabama. We try to hit the places where animals have the highest chance of not coming out alive.”
For example, she stated that 60-70% of animals in DeKalb County will be euthanized if they end up at a shelter. Morgan County is another area that they work really hard to rescue.
In addition to rescuing animals from high-kill shelters, ANLOL also works diligently to help various centers to help themselves.
“One way we try to help the centers is by working with them on their social media presence and getting the word out about animals that are in their facilities. So many people don’t realize that you can go to these high-kill centers to foster as well as adopt.”
ANLOL tries not to discriminate against any conditions the animal may have, which often leads them to rescue animals that are sick, young, old, or pregnant.
“We will work hard to rehab them and adopt them out.”
Cocoa was abandoned at their facility recently with a shattered elbow. Long story short, she was taken to see two specialists who eventually concluded that it was best to amputate her leg due to the extent of the crushing.
“This wasn’t a fresh injury,” shared Phillips.
Thrift store manager Mandy Hyatt decided to foster Cocoa so that she could be apart of the ANLOL program, and Cocoa took a liking to Mandy and her daughter Grace immediately. They’ve now decided to make Cocoa a permanent member of their family.
Mandy and Grace enjoy bringing Cocoa to the store each day and say that she’s become somewhat of a store mascot.
“Customers love coming here to see Cocoa,” shared Hyatt. “Most shelters don’t have the funding to put in extensive treatment as we’ve done for Cocoa.”
She continued to say that it’s because of volunteers and funding from the thrift store that make so much of what they do possible.
How the Community Can Help
Phillips shared that when it comes to the life-saving side of the center, “we are in need of everything.”
Connected to the thrift store is a “glorified warehouse” that Phillips hopes to fix up to the point that they can make it “living ready” for dogs and cats waiting to be adopted.
Not only do they need things like fencing, doors, landscaping, and paint, but they are desperately in need of skills and support to build the actual facility.
If you or your organization have interest in donating supplies or your skills and time to creating this much-needed facility, there is a great need for you!
-volunteering: we try to show you every option possible: thrift store, getting the building ready, right now we have quarantined cats
Fostering and Adopting from A New Leash on Life
For clarification, fostering a pet means giving the animal a roof over his or her head and providing lots of love until the pet’s permanent family comes along.
“We will give you everything you need to become a successful foster family,” shared Phillips. “We have a foster closet for resources and we take care of any and all vet expenses. We will also provide you with a foster coach.”
Phillips said that one of their biggest goals is making sure that an adopted pet’s new family is going to be his or her forever family. For this reason, ANLOL provides adoption counseling to make sure that “we match what’s best for both the animal and the household.”
Phillips also expressed the concept that adopting an animal is actually saving an additional animal.
“As soon as an animal is adopted, ANLOL will fill the open spot in the program by rescuing another animal. We will literally go the next day to rescue another pet from a shelter.”
When I asked Phillips what she wished people knew about rescuing from organizations like A New Leash on Life, she said that she knows “sometimes people are scare of rescue animals, but I always want to let people know that these are the most loving, loyal situations. When an animal discovers that they are in a good situation, they will love their people so much. It can be lifesaving for you as well.”
[Author note]: As I write this story with my long-ago rescue dog snuggled up against my leg, I fight the urge to hop up and go adopt another animal after typing those last couple of lines! Phillips is so right; Our dog is a lover!
All of these adoptable dogs and many more (plus lots of beautiful cats and other animals!) are pictured on ANewLeash.Org.
In addition to shopping the thrift store, A New Leash on Life could desperately use YOU in the following areas:
- Thrift store volunteer (Click here for hours and volunteer options.)
- Thrift store and/or pet supply donations (Click here for the full wish list.)
- Future lifesaving center donations (time, resources, or skills) <—-WONDERFUL community service project
- Foster parent (Read about the process here.)
- Adopt a pet! View adoptable pets here.
Please fill out this online volunteer form for more information.