A special kind of thrift

PHOTO BY Alexandrea Dahlstrom
Above: Supporter, donor and shopper Joann Esposito (left), of Chicago, has been coming to the 9 Lives Boutique since 2007. Volunteer Jan Hughes greets another frequent visitor to the shop, Esposito’s dog Shorty, a 6-year-old Dachshund, who is known as a “regular.”

Animal shelter’s resale shop goes to an all-volunteer staff

“These are people (boutique volunteers) that get what we are trying to do in this community. They understand that we are trying to save as many homeless animals as possible in our community and that we are doing whatever we can to support the operational expenses associated with that venture,”
– Lakeland Animal Shelter Executive Director Kristen Perry

By Alexandrea Dahlstrom

Raising funds through traditional means such as events and mailings are not the only way a not-for-profit organization can help make ends meet. That idea led to the Lakeland Animal Shelter opening the 9 Lives Boutique, 835 Geneva St, Lake Geneva.
The distinctive resale shop is entirely stocked with gently used or new items that have been donated. Merchandise includes: jewelry, antique and fine furniture, designer clothing and purses and housewares.

Now in its sixth year, the boutique started 2013 by being operated solely by volunteers.
The idea for a resale shop was presented to the board of directors and Lakeland Animal Shelter Executive Director Kristen Perry by a supporter who was also associated with another area humane society that had opened a similar store in Elmbrook. The idea was to give donors an alternative means to donate both by donating gently used items and by shopping for the items at the boutique.

PHOTO BY Alexandrea Dahlstrom
The 9 Lives Boutique, 835 Geneva St., Lake Gene-va, has gone to an all-volunteer staffed model for 2013. Shelter officials project in increase in profits by 40 percent.

“The proceeds from this venture offer an alternative revenue stream for the programs and services provided by the Lakeland Animal Shelter that cost $750,000 annually,” Perry said.

The programs, Perry said, are for the care and intake of the more than 2,800 stray, abandoned and unwanted animals of Walworth County each year. The shelter also offers other services such as animal cruelty and neglect investigation, adoption placement services for unclaimed and unwanted pets, animal rescue assistance to local law enforcement agencies and education services on the subject of humane animal care.

“We depend upon the support of the entire community in order to provide these valuable services. This support can come in many forms, including monetary donation, supply donation, donation of gently used items to the 9 Lives Boutique, volunteering time at the Lakeland Animal Shelter or 9 Lives boutique, shopping at the 9 Lives Boutique or adopting your next companion animal from the Lakeland Animal Shelter,” Perry said.

The boutique faces obstacles with the latest being an increase in similar shops and decrease in profits.
“We experienced a decrease in overall sales in 2011 and 2012,” Perry said. “We also were experiencing an increase in expenses associated with operating the boutique.

“We (the board of directors and Perry) made the decision that in order for it to be the most profitable venture possible for the animals, we had to go back to the original business plan for the project and staff it entirely with volunteers instead of paid staff. We expect this decision alone to increase our profit margin for the project by 40 percent in 2013,” Perry continued.

Another reason to make the boutique an all-volunteer venture is to bring in people who know they can make a difference in the life of a homeless animal. Many times the volunteer may never even meet the animal. The donation of time is an invaluable resource to non-profit organizations.

“These are people that get what we are trying to do in this community. They understand that we are trying to save as many homeless animals as possible in our community and that we are doing whatever we can to support the operational expenses associated with that venture,” Perry said.

“They support that we are a humane society that is doing what many have claimed is not possible … we are an animal shelter that provides animal control services to an entire county, which means that we take in every stray animal that is found in Walworth County as well as surrendered animals that have lost their homes.

“We are an adoption guarantee facility that refuses to use euthanasia as a means of population control. Volunteers get that their time and service helps make this possible,” Perry said.

Jan Hughes, Chicago, and Pat Cameren, Delavan, have been volunteering in some capacity with the shelter for about seven years. Hughes, who works in the Chicago Attorney General’s Office, comes up to her home in Elkhorn on the weekends. Because of her schedule, Hughes helps out with fundraising events by collecting donations for the auctions and participating in outreach events in the community.

“I would like to be able to volunteer at the boutique at least a few days a month,” Hughes said.

Cameren began her volunteering by socializing shy and depressed cats. She comes to the shelter at least one day a week and spends time in its adoptable cat room. Cameren speaks softly and slowly to develop a relationship with the cats so they would become more adoptable. Competing with hundreds of younger and more outgoing cats, many of these older and withdrawn cats get overlooked Cameren said.

“I hope to volunteer at the boutique two to four days a month,” Cameren said.

New volunteer, Annuziata Scarpino, moved to Genoa City in March. She visited the shelter in October to find out how she could lend a hand. Like Hughes and Cameren, it was Scarpino’s love for animals that drew her to the shelter. Perry asked her if she would like to help with the boutique and Scarpino’s first day volunteering was Dec. 26.
Scarpino has volunteered in animal shelter resale shops in Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas and now Wisconsin.

“The boutique is looking for donations of gently used furniture, clothing, household items and other treasure that can be resold,” Scarpino said.

Lakeland is not experiencing a decrease in support at the shelter, Perry said. But with an increase in the volume of animals the shelter is serving, which is up 5 percent from 2012’s intake, as well as a greater need and expense associated with the condition the animals are arriving, the shelter’s expense budget has increased in the areas of medical and veterinary services. There is also an increased need for kennel supplies and services.

According to Perry, the shelter’s board of directors and staff are evaluating all the shelter expenses, looking for areas to save, and how to best utilize volunteer resources. The shelter has a volunteer handyman, which Perry says saved the shelter more than $10,000 in 2012.
The shelter is looking to apply that success across the spectrum and is seeking volunteer veterinarians, plumbers, carpenters, printers and other services.

Volunteers are also needed to help homeless animals – one day a week, one day a month or one day a year – by cleaning cages, running errands, picking up animals, data entry and writing thank you notes.

The Lakeland Animal Shelter is the only open-admission humane society that cares for all homeless domestic animals in Walworth County. The ultimate goal for these animals is to reunite them with their owners or find suitable new homes in which they can be adopted.
The 9 Lives Boutique is open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Tuesdays.

Interested volunteers can email kperry@lakelandanimalshelter.org or lynn@lakelandanimalshelter.org or call the 9 Lives Boutique at (262) 248-3122.

The Lakeland Animal Shelter, 3551 Highway 67, Delavan, is open Monday through Friday noon to 6 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Sundays.
For more information on the shelter or ways to help or adopt a furry companion call (262) 723-1000 or visit www.lakelandanimalshelter.org.

Is there a home for us?

By Lynn Sabo


Lakeland Animal Shelter

Lynn Sabo


These are the stories of two of the longest residents at the Lakeland Animal Shelter. Like many of the animals that reside at the shelter, Bucky and Stevie are there through no fault of their own.


“Please don’t see me as just another big black dog. I’m Stevie, and I am a very special girl. I am almost 7-years-old and a Pit Bull Terrier mix. The jury is still out on what else I might be mixed with.

      Though I am big, I also have a big heart to match my beautiful athletic body. I love to go for walks and get plenty of exercise and I am very playful and fun to be around. Because of that, I always have a roommate at the shelter. Cats are not my favorite friends, but I love people and want to go to my forever home with someone as special as me.

      I have been waiting for a new home for almost a year, please don’t let me wait too much longer.”



“Life at the shelter isn’t always easy for a “plain” boy like me. I often get overlooked because I am not colorful, have long pretty hair, or am a “specialty” breed of cat.

      My age also doesn’t help when there are always plenty of young, spunky kittens to choose from. I’m almost eight years old and for many potential adopters that is too old. Even though cats can live up to 15 to 20 years indoors. Two years. That’s how long I have been here, sitting, watching and waiting for someone to fall in love with the real me.

      I don’t really like it here, but I manage to put on a happy face most of the time. The people are nice and take really good care of me. I tend to be a little shy and don’t always seek out attention like the others. I don’t like to be carried so, young children sometimes frighten me.

      When I arrived at the shelter I had a horrible infection in my left eye, which created a small ulcer. Sometimes I think my scarring where my eye healed puts off people. Don’t worry, I can still see and move around just fine. My eye does weep when I get really stressed out, and the staff at the shelter hopes that getting me into a home will help.

      Please, won’t you come visit me? I’d love for someone to give me a chance and see the real me.


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