Volunteer Cathy Pittman is Working to Help Animals in Unique Ways

Unique ways that one life-long animal advocate is making a difference!

Volunteers work with therapy dogs for U.S. veterans with PTSD. Rescued dogs shown here: Breezy the Beagle, O’Neil the Black Lab, Dakota the Yellow Lab and George the Bassett Hound.

While many rescue dogs have often been abandoned by owners due to their behavior problems, the reverse can also be true—that they have developed serious issues after being abandoned and/or mistreated. Many rescue organizations will attempt to train dogs before allowing them to be adopted which can mean the difference between a new owner keeping or returning the dog.

Unfortunately, as with so many nonprofits, pet rescue groups tend to be under-staffed and under-funded. Sadder still is that the majority of animal shelters are kill shelters. Even when a shelter claims that they’re a no-kill shelter, when they become overcrowded, city pounds can order the overage of homeless animals to be shipped out and far too often the animals end up in kill shelters. There are still countless lovable pooches that are euthanized because there just isn’t enough funding to protect the dogs that don’t get adopted.

The Decision to Make a Difference

With these somber thoughts in mind, Cathy Pittman sought to make a difference. First, nearly thirty years ago, Pittman founded the Performing Animal Troupe, a company that provides dogs and trainers for movies, commercials and television shows.

“With my business, I found a way to fill a need,” she says. “I’ve been able to rescue animals from shelters and then train them to become actors. Ninety-eight percent of the dogs and cats that are in the entertainment business come from animal shelters. These are animals that most people don’t want. Their high energy level makes them more challenging for the average pet owner. We love the animals who have that crazy frenetic drive because they want a job to do. They’re eager to be stimulated. Training is a lot of stimulation for them. So aside from making our living providing a service, we save animals’ lives.”

Helping Animals: Taking Another Step

Cathy wasn’t satisfied to stop there though. Once she found one niche to fill, it occurred to her that there must be many more “jobs” for pets. And more ways to protect abandoned dogs. With this in mind, Pittman went on to create the non-profit organization, Old Friends Animal Shelter and Education Center.

Cathy created “Old Friends” to save as many doggie lives as she can. She realized that there is a great need to educate people on how to run a successful rescue so they won’t get caught up in any type of hoarding situation. To accomplish this goal, Old Friends is both an animal shelter and education center.

“I love all dogs but especially old dogs,” says Pittman. “People often want to get rid of old dogs and get a puppy. It breaks my heart when old dogs get dumped. So, I thought, ‘What can I do to start programs nationwide to show that they have a use?’”

Programs, Programs, Programs!

To help dogs in need, Pittman crafted a variety of programs that benefit the animal community at large. One of Cathy’s programs is called R.O.M.P. (Reconnecting With Our Military Personnel). With this program, Pittman has rescued dogs, trained them and helped them earn certification as therapy dogs that she then pairs with military veterans.

“Men with PTSD, who haven’t talked to anybody for 30 years, will talk to these dogs,” said Cathy.

Therapy Dogs
Senior Dogs for Seniors

Another program in the works is called Seniors for Seniors.

“[The program’s purpose] is to enrich the lives of shut-ins, elderly people with no family, or those on disability,” Pittman explains. “It gives senior dogs a purpose in life. Senior dogs just want to lie beside their person. My model for this program was Meals on Wheels. A team of volunteers will go to the elderly’s homes and make sure the seniors and animals are doing okay.”

Cathy and her volunteers check to find out if the seniors need their yard cleaned up, or their animals taken to the vet, and she makes sure there is enough food so the dog doesn’t become a hardship.

“There is a great need for this service,” said Cathy, “and the benefits are well documented.”

Old Friends isn’t stopping with these programs, and Pittman is looking to expand her mission to help animals by instituting some of the following:

  • A training facility to teach developmentally disabled citizens how to work with rescued animals.
  • Educational “How To” films that teach communities to start their own programs to place unwanted pets in loving homes. These films will include information on how to set up a non-profit organization, a R.O.M.P. program, Seniors for Seniors, etc.
  • Everlasting Care is a service for terminally ill pet owners to ensure that after their death the pet they love will be cared for.

If you’d like to make a donation or learn more about Pittman’s animal rescue efforts, please visit: GoRescue.org

Written for NBC Petside