The Columbus Dog Connection stretches its resources, while expanding services

As one of the older rescue groups in Ohio, the Columbus Dog Connection has been around for almost 17 years. Its statewide profile was elevated after leading the push for Ohio’s anti-puppy mill bill a few years ago, but the nonprofit has quietly been making a difference for decades.
One reason for its longevity is its ability to do more with less.
Kellie DiFrischia, co-founder and co-director of the Columbus Dog Connection, says that one of their board members calls the nonprofit the most frugal she’s ever been involved with.
The group also has branched out into the spay/neuter business because it’s hard to address the overpopulation problem without doing both rescue and spay/neuter.
“We would love to be out of business,” DiFrischia says.
Smart Business spoke with DiFrischia about making every dollar count as the Columbus Dog Connection seeks to build a stronger community.
SB: What is the mission of the Columbus Dog Connection and how has that changed?
KD: Our primary goal has been to alleviate the suffering of dogs. That task has come in many forms over the years.
Primarily, we re-home dogs and cats by rescuing abandoned pets, promoting all rescues and shelters in Ohio and being dogged in the pursuit of saving every adoptable dog until dogs and cats are no longer euthanized for lack of space.
However, we also were the lead advocacy agency on Ohio’s anti-puppy mill bill. We started a low cost mobile spay/neuter clinic to directly address the need for lower cost spay/neuter. And we have always shared our resources with other rescue groups and continue to assist them with the donations we are not using.
We also help the groups we do spay/neuter with by sharing grant money we receive.
SB: How does your foster home program work? Is that the biggest way you utilize volunteers?
KD: Our foster program is much like fostering a child. We provide all veterinary care, crates, toys, etc., and the foster volunteer provides the TLC. We provide all the support you would need, including day care and boarding/substitute sitting if you have vacation plans.
Our foster volunteers do provide our greatest volunteer need. The more foster homes we have, the more dogs and cats we can save.
SB: You mentioned that you’re extremely conscious with every donated penny. How do you try to make the organization more efficient and stretch your resources?
KD: We are humbled by every penny entrusted to our grass-roots mission and carefully spend only when we need to. We ask for in-kind donations to keep our costs down.
A good example of our thriftiness is our newsletter preparation. We utilize volunteer hours to prepare the mailing, thereby keeping our production cost down.
We are also very green and reduce, reuse and recycle often. We belong to a program that gives store credit for ink cartridges. We are fortunate to work with businesses that love what we do and reduce their services to cost for us.
SB: How do you work with other rescue organizations?
KD: We have always been big believers that we are stronger as a team effort instead of individual groups. We do everything we can to assist all rescues and shelters.
Our website is a comprehensive source for rescues and shelters who need information on anything dog/cat in Ohio.
Our Habitat for Dogmanity Program has completed numerous events where we assist shelters. We did a shelter makeover in Meigs County, in southern Ohio. We’ve also had collection drives for numerous rescues/shelters in Ohio as well as Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana.
Our warehouse is a revolving door for donations that, when not utilized by our group, are re-donated to the rescues/shelters in need. We’ve donated over 900 elevated dog beds.
And most importantly, The Andy, our spay/neuter truck travels Ohio working with rescues/shelters to do low cost spay/neuter.
SB: Do you have any advice for other organizations, either for-profit or nonprofit, that are trying to do more with less?
KD: Yes, networking in your community is the key. Find businesses that love what you do and see if they are able to make an in-kind donation to help your mission.
SB: What are Columbus Dog Connection’s recent accomplishments, and what’s in store for the future?
KD: As the lead agency to work on the Ohio anti-puppy mill bill, we are still engaged with the state to see that the dogs in the high-volume kennels receive proper care.
Every time we save a dog or cat, we have accomplished something great for that animal. Every spay/neuter we do, we have improved the overpopulation problem.

On the horizon for us is more spay/neuter. We know we can’t adopt our way out of this crisis of overpopulation. The more spay/neuter we do today, the less money we spend doing spay/neuter later.