Shelterluv Stories: Faith Wright, American Pets Alive!

Every day, our customers display incredible acts of compassion that impact the lives of animals and humans alike. Faith Wright is the Shelter Management Advisor for American Pets Alive!

Faith Wright started taking in animals at an early age. “I was the kid who had to be strip searched after playing outside because I was known to bring tadpoles, frogs, baby bunnies, and other critters shoved in my pockets and in my shirt. I once filled up the bathtub with tadpoles, frogs, and crawfish that I collected from a creek behind my house. My mom found out about it a couple of days later!” It should come as no surprise, then, that Wright has become an animal welfare legend, having fostered over 800 animals in the last decade.

Wright as a child
Photo credit: Faith Wright

Wright’s animal welfare journey started after a case of empty nest syndrome in 2009. “When my kids grew up and were getting ready to leave the house, I didn’t know what to do. So I thought, ‘I’ll walk shelter dogs.’” Working as a paralegal in Georgetown, TX at the time, Wright began to walk dogs at a shelter right next to her office during her lunch breaks. She soon took on her first foster — Paloma, a chihuahua from a hoarding situation — who got adopted within a week. “I cried for 4 straight days. I was devastated to let go of a dog I fell in love with. I didn’t think that I could do it again.”

Paloma, Wright’s very first foster
Photo credit: Faith Wright

Soon enough, however, she was taking on new fosters regularly, and eventually began volunteering at Austin Pets Alive! near her home in Austin, TX, where she took in one of her most life-changing foster cases. “There were seven puppies found in a field. I took in two of them, including Reese. The other puppy dropped dead while it was being bottle fed. He was only six weeks old. Another foster lost a puppy shortly after that, and three days later, a third foster lost two puppies.” The puppies had parvo of the heart, which they inherited from their mother. Because one of Wright’s dogs was a blood donor, the surviving puppies were able to get blood transfusions, including Reese. But the damage had already been done. “Shortly before her first birthday, Reese went into cardiac arrest and died. That did me in again.”

Even still, Wright was determined to foster more animals. “I think I was made to be a mother. I just want to take care of everything. I have many sad days, of course, but it gives me so much fulfillment.”

Wright soon joined Austin Pets Alive! full-time and quickly moved through the ranks. In 2011, she became the Operations Manager, and in 2016, she became the Facilities, Information, and Legal Services Manager. She is now a Shelter Management Advisor for American Pets Alive!, Austin Pets Alive’s national program, and travels around the country to help shelters improve their lifesaving efforts.

Of course, she continues to take on fosters wherever she goes. “I was working with Palm Valley Animal Center in Edinburg, TX and lived out there for three months. My two bedroom apartment was overflowing all the time. It just never stopped. I was even bottle feeding baby raccoons, bats, and rabbits!”

One particularly memorable animal that she met during her time in Edinburg was Charlie the monkey. “Charlie was living in a home and bit a kid’s finger. He arrived at Palm Valley Animal Center and was scheduled to be euthanized that day. I literally was going to chain myself to his cage to keep them from euthanizing him. I called my manager and was like, ‘If I chain myself to a monkey’s cage to prevent him from getting euthanized, will I get fired?’ and she was like, ‘Hell no!’ Charlie was saved and is now living at a sanctuary.”

Charlie the monkey, one of the many animals Wright saved during her time at Palm Valley Animal Center
Photo credit: Faith Wright

Wright credits her friends, family, and the greater community for helping her with her efforts. “I had 24 animals in my house during Hurricane Harvey. They just kept coming from everywhere. My upstairs bathroom had puppies from the valley. The den had a mom and three puppies from the Houston area. They just kept coming,” she says. On top of that, APA was setting up an evacuation warehouse and taking in 5,000 animals, which meant Wright was working 80-hour weeks at the time. “Thankfully, I have really good friends that came over and started working two shifts a day at my house for me. One friend bought me new shorts to wear because I couldn’t do laundry and another one came to my house to do all the laundry that had piled up. Another generously sent me soda, dog food, dog treats, and paper towels.”

Four of the twenty-four animals that Wright fostered during Hurricane Harvey
Photo credit: Faith Wright

While Wright has helped hundreds of animals find loving homes, she has also kept a few over the years. “I usually keep the ones with special needs. One had severe separation anxiety and chewed through the walls in two houses. One has three and a half legs. One doesn’t let anyone touch her — including me — so she just lives in the house. I am happy to have them stay here.”

Wright and a dog
Photo credit: Faith Wright

Wright’s unwavering dedication to animals has inspired the next generation of animal welfare advocates. “My granddaughter is growing up around my animals, and she’s been bottle feeding puppies since she was a year old.”

So what advice does she have for those who want to make an impact on animal welfare but don’t know where to start? “Volunteer at your local animal shelter, but don’t limit yourself to just one area. Move around. Do laundry, clean litter boxes, walk dogs, help the foster team. You’ll find your niche without getting burned out.”

Feature image by Faith Wright