Nonprofit Spotlight: AnimalKind

AnimalKind board vice president Brad Hill, store manager David Martinez, and board president Frank Gordon.

AnimalKind, founded by Joan Ott in 1998, originally started as a spay/neuter awareness campaign to address the overpopulation of adoptable cats and dogs in shelters across North Carolina. According to the Public Animal Shelter Report released by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, more than 35,000 pets were euthanized in 2021. Although prevention is the best solution, spaying and neutering can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the size of the animal. Over the years, AnimalKind’s mission — to end the unnecessary euthanasia of dogs and cats in NC — has evolved to include programming designed to provide financial assistance to low-income pet owners.

The three pillars of AnimalKind are the ReTails Thrift Shop, the $20 Fix, and the SpayNC Helpline. Founded by Sabine French and board president Frank Gordon, ReTails Thrift Shop has a little bit of everything, from furniture and electronics to women’s clothing, all housed in a 4,000-square-foot space. 100% of net profits support AnimalKind’s mission to help disadvantaged NC residents get their animals spayed or neutered.

“The reason ReTails is so popular is because it’s a treasure hunt — you can find things in thrift stores that are actually quite valuable,” said Gordon. “If you spend a lot of time in thrift stores checking them out, ReTails is on a different level, and people like that. I know the biggest sale item we have there is women’s clothing, and we pay a lot of attention in the back before we put stuff out in the front. We’re pretty careful about what we’re putting out there on the floor for sale, especially in that category, and people know it. And the more people that know it, the bigger our customer base becomes.”

Unlike many thrift stores, ReTails adopts a “waste not, want not” policy when it comes to donations. When items don’t make it to the floor, they are recycled instead of thrown into a landfill. So even if your donation isn’t chosen, it can still make a profit and assist AnimalKind in its mission.

ReTails Thrift Shop has a little bit of everything, from women’s clothing, furniture, electronics, and more — all housed in a 4,000 square-foot space.

“When you go to ReTails, you’re putting your hands right on AnimalKind,” said Brad Hill, board vice president and longtime supporter of AnimalKind. “When you walk into ReTails, you’re walking into our office. So that’s a great way to start getting involved — just talk with the people who work there, look at the merchandise, and buy something.”

AnimalKind’s $20 Fix Spay/Neuter program has helped over 22,000 cats and dogs since 2004 by providing financial assistance for low-income families in Alamance and Orange County. Residents in these counties are asked to go to the website and fill out an application to see if they qualify for assistance.

Clothing is one of the most popular categories at ReTails, with women’s clothing being their biggest seller. The staff takes extra care with what they put out on the floor, making sure everything is clean, appropriate, and in optimal condition.

A lot of people can’t afford to get their animal fixed, but they know what a litter of 10 kittens in spring means — it means economic ruin for them. Or heartbreak, because something bad’s going to happen to those 10 kittens and they’ll end up in the shelter,” said Gordon. “So those human beings who are able to take advantage of our programs — those are the smiles, those are the success stories, and that’s where the payoff is for us.”

In addition to an online map of the most current spay-neuter options in your area, AnimalKind offers the SpayNC Helpline, available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This toll-free number provides a statewide referral service for reduced-cost spay/ neuters for those who can’t afford to get their pets fixed. All calls are answered by personnel at ReTails Thrift Shop.

“We help everybody that comes in the door or calls in. My staff are one of a kind. They are unique, they are always helpful, and they love people and pets,” said store manager David Martinez. “I do this for the love of people and the love of pets. That’s the one thing that drives me and keeps me coming into work.”

At AnimalKind, the easiest way to lend a helping hand is to simply shop! In addition to their thrift store, AnimalKind offers beautiful pet-themed memorial or honor cards that can be ordered directly on their website, with 100% of net profits from the sale going to support their programs. These can be ordered in memory of a beloved person or pet or to mark a special occasion — the choice is yours!

AnimalKind’s mission would not be possible without donations of every kind, whether it’s people hand delivering items straight to the store or money submitted online via their website.

The discovery of a good book or the perfect conversation piece makes for an exciting treasure hunt experience at ReTails!

“When you donate through the website you’re making a pure injection of helpful resources that you know are targeted to the actual problem,” said Hill.

Volunteers are always needed at ReTails, so be sure to swing by their location off of Spring Forest Road in Raleigh to assist in the office or help in-store. Individuals, school groups, service organizations, and those needing community service hours are all welcome. Anyone can host a donation drive for ReTails with the help of a donation drive toolkit provided by AnimalKind, complete with sample flyers, newsletters, and useful advice on how to get started.

100% of net profits support AnimalKind’s mission to help NC residents get their animals spayed or neutered.

“You can go to ReTails and get rid of your stuff. You can go to ReTails and volunteer. You can go to ReTails and shop. You can call Brad or me and say, ‘I really want to be involved in the leadership of this organization’ and get on the board. Those are the main things you can do,” said Gordon.

“If you follow sports, championship-level players will tell you it’s not really about the wins, it’s about the losses. They’re motivated by the fear of failure because they can’t stand losing. And I don’t like losing either, but more specifically, I don’t like going to the county animal shelter. I can’t go there and not want to take them all home. Everything we do is to avoid that pain and that circumstance. And that feels good to me.”

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