During mid-afternoon, Chrystal Hays of the Ravenhill Rescue Home stands among--but not quite surrounded by--a variety of dogs in the small parking lot outside the Red Jacket on Lower Greenville. "When people drive by and see this," she says, "they probably think a little more about taking care of their own pets."
She is referring to what has come to be known as the Disco Doggy and Kitty Adoption. Several area groups, which include Ravenhill, Lakewood Animal Orphanage, Kittyco, and Lexi's Legacy, come to give pets a chance for a new home. These "no kill" animal rescue groups rotate in and out of the tents that shelter the dogs in the parking lot and the interior of the Red Jacket, which houses the cats every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Red Jacket owner John Kenyon estimates that 80 percent of the pets, which will have the necessary shots and alteration surgery by the time they are brought to Disco Doggy and Kitty, come from pounds. The other 20 percent are strays picked up from the street.
The people from the groups taking part in the Sunday adoptions bring animals from their own residences, which double as foster homes for abandoned pets. Ravenhill is, in essence, just another name for Hays' own house.
Kenyon and Codi Strand, Disco Doggy and Kitty Adoption's organizer and resident pet trainer, have 10 foster dogs staying in their garage, which they've converted into a kennel. At one time the number of dogs peaked at 23. Kenyon has been hosting the pet adoption along with Strand since March. They've had a good success rate from the very beginning, finding homes for 15 dogs right out of the gate. The program's gone on to find homes for 150 dogs and cats in four months. "We've never adopted out less than four and have found homes for as many as 15," Kenyon says.
Strangely enough, the start of the Disco Doggy and Kitty Adoption was an accident. Kenyon and Strand found a collared cat that had gotten loose from an animal rescue group. When the group was contacted, the person who answered the phone asked the couple if they wanted to become a foster home for animals. They said "yes."
Kenyon soon began helping adoption programs and, as his involvement grew, his business sense told him something was missing. He realized that Greenville Avenue, which carries about 18,000 cars in a 24-hour period and has a daytime crowd of what Kenyon calls "patio traffic," would be an ideal location. "I saw a combination of petting zoo and Mexican flea market," Kenyon says.
As of 3 p.m. on this particular day--just one hour after opening--eight cats have been adopted. Outside one of the many volunteers shows up and asks Hays the whereabouts of some of the dogs she has gotten to know. They have been adopted, she finds out; they are gone. No one is sad.