RIVERVIEW – Cecelia Nieves has a soft heart when it comes to injured and abused animals. She has worked with them as a certified veterinary technician at Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency Service since 2009.
Over the years, the Riverview resident recognized a growing need in the community for an organization that could help stray, neglected, confiscated or surrendered animals in need of medical help and rehabilitation in addition to a permanent, loving home. So she founded Animal Luvrs Dream Rescue with the mission of rescuing and caring for critically ill or injured dogs and cats – and the occasional bird or pocket pet – that have no one who is financially responsible for their care.
“One of our first rescues was Pokey, an 8-month-old pit bull mix with Parvo virus whose owner surrendered him to the emergency clinic, was in isolation for about three weeks, and then was transferred to me to find him a foster. One of our foster volunteers in Sarasota took him, and he’s made a full recovery. He was in her care nine or 10 months before being placed in a permanent home last November.”
“It all worked out wonderfully,” Nieves said.
The Riverview-based nonprofit rescue received its official 501(c)3 documentation in June. It currently has 30 volunteer foster parents who live throughout Hillsborough County and as far away as Sarasota and Spring Hill. Most of its shelter animals come from Hillsborough County Pet Resources, Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency Service or Pasco County Animal Services. A network of veterinarians offer reduced pricing to help defray some of the rescue’s medical costs.
Often an animal’s life is spared.
One of its rescues is Simon, a 2-year-old mini dachshund brought to Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency Service by a Tampa police officer who found him with a homeless man. He was emaciated and frightened, Nieves said.
“He was transferred to animal services, deemed not adoptable for aggression and put on stray hold,” she said. “I was told he would be euthanized if not pulled by a rescue.”
Simon stayed with Nieves until a kennel cough issue was resolved, and then placed with Nina Franklin, who is currently fostering him.
“You should see him now,” Franklin said. “He’s very loving, laid-back and playful, and he’s good with kids and other animals.”
Animal Luvr’s Dream Rescue has about 30 dogs and cats available for adoption. Prospective owners are required to fill out applications, be interviewed, consent to a home visit and, if all goes well, sign an adoption agreement. Fees are $50 to $300, depending on the breed, age of the dog and the amount of medical care it received while being fostered. Most are completely healthy but any lingering issues already being treated continue to be covered by the rescue.
Funding for medical expenses generally comes from monthly fundraisers the organization hosts, including dog washes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pet Malls, 11691 Boyette Road, Riverview. The next one is this Saturday and Sunday. For details, call (813) 741-0414.
And Kimberly Tyson, DVM, owner of Four Paws Veterinary Clinic in Riverview, will host a Yappy Hour event to benefit Animal Luvr’s Dream Rescue from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 30 at Joia Fabulous Pizza & Martini Bar, 10475 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview. For information, call (813) 677-7171.
To learn more about Animals Luvr’s Dream Rescue, view adoptable animals or learn how you can help, visit www.animalluvrs.org. You can also call (813) 358-8312 to speak with Nieves directly.