FAQs

You Asked, We Answered

Q?

When was United Pet Fund (UPF) founded and by whom?

A.

The short answer is May 2010, in Cincinnati, Ohio, by Dr. Zeke Zekoff. The longer answer can be found here.

Q?

Why was this organization founded? Aren’t there enough animal organizations already?

A.

A veterinarian since 1986, Dr. Zekoff has devoted his professional life to keeping animals healthy – but always had a special place in his heart in working with those people who devote their own lives to helping animals in need. So after also working with rescues, shelters and other animal care and service organizations (ASCOs) for nearly 30 years, Dr. Zekoff discovered an element common to many of these smaller, independent organizations – great compassion and spirit for animals in need of shelter, food, medical services, etc., but a noticeable lack of both business and leadership skills and the tools necessary to run a successful nonprofit entity. This, in combination with little free time, fewer available volunteers and limited funds, has led to many of these ACSOs struggling to survive.

Q?

Don’t larger shelters (such as local SPCAs) take care of all the needs of unwanted animals? Why do we need the smaller organizations?

A.

Although the larger, “public shelters” do a valuable service in the counties in which they operate, they physically cannot take care of all the homeless and unwanted animals in the area. Without adequate funding and personnel, many of these shelters end up having to euthanize many adoptable animals due to overcrowding. A great number of other private shelters and rescues have come on the scene to fill the gap and reduce the number of animals that are euthanized. Many have developed into breed-specific rescues or species-specific rescues/shelters.

Q?

With so many organizations, what’s the problem?

A.

Many of these smaller organizations start out with great intentions to do what they can to help needy animals. They seek an IRS nonprofit status, and once they get their 501(c)(3) status, the hope is that money will flow in to meet the needs of the animals that have been rescued. Even in the best of economies, the best of intentions can go awry as they quickly find out that running a nonprofit organization comes with many challenges – especially when it comes to recruiting boards and board members who can actually contribute to the organization's success. They need energetic and committed members to help with fundraising, time availability, lack of consistent volunteer help, leadership skills and public relation skills in order to keep the John-Q.-Animal-Loving-Public interested in their cause.

Q?

Sounds like there is a need, but aren’t there government agencies or United Way agencies that help these ACSOs?

A.

Basically, NO. None of them are specific for ACSOs. Many of these smaller or independent animal rescue and shelter organizations have fallen through the cracks where they struggle to survive. With a lack of time and funds, they limp along. To be clear, none of them lack the important basics – heart, love and passion for the animals they serve. What they do lack is the funding, volunteers, supplies and support to serve their animals effectively.

Q?

What does the United Pet Fund hope to do about this?

A.

We are working on becoming the go-to resource and support organization for the smaller, mom-and-pop-style ACSOs. Our next goal is to become a solid, thriving nonprofit ACSO-member services organization that can also provide the basic business services needed by all nonprofits to become successful.
Eventually, with the advantage that comes with a larger number of contributors and members, we hope to offer access to discounted business services for our members, including legal, accounting, insurance, public relations, IT services, credit/financing services, pet products, and webinar-based training in both nonprofit leadership and management skills, as well as animal behavior and health needs.

In our current setup,United Pet Fund offers the following services:

  • Resource Center and Food Bank, a central warehouse where supplies can be collected and made available to local shelters in need
  • Funds for Crisis Management when an unexpected emergency or crisis comes up beyond the normal day-to-day operations of an ACSO
  • Pet Health Day in Over-the-Rhine – a M.A.S.H.-type of preventative health care clinic held in October of each year and run solely by volunteers; this no-charge clinic is held at the St. Francis Seraph Church on Liberty and Vine, and each year serves 100 – 200 dogs and cats belonging to economically disadvantaged owners
  • Nonprofit Management and Leadership Seminars and Webinars presented by local and national providers; Animal Behavior Assessments are also included in advancing the education opportunities for local ACSO personnel

Q?

Sounds great. What are your long-term plans?

A.

We hope to perfect our organizational model here in the Greater Cincinnati and surrounding Midwest area, and then eventually expand nationally. To help set up our own business model and ensure its success, our organization has received generous contributions of service in kind from such community business leaders as Deloitte Consulting, Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University Business School.

Q?

How can we help?

A.

As always, without your generosity, we cannot succeed in helping those ACSOs in need. When they succeed, the animals they serve are the winners. UPF is always interested in hearing from individuals, businesses and organizations that believe in this new concept and would like to network with us.

Q?

How can I get in contact with you?

A.

You can email unitedpetfund@fuse.net us or call us at any time. There’s also a convenient spot here for you to send us a message.