Three Greenwich Women Lead Non-Profit Charity, Fido Fixers

Lisa's two rescue dogs

Emma Daley with Lisa Wysocki’s two rescue dogs, Janet, a yellow lab, and Jean-Pierre, a purebred papillon. Credit: Leslie Yager.

Lisa Wysocki has two dogs and six cats but has made a difference in the lives of thousands of animals.

For years, Wysocki and her friends were involved in transporting dogs from the south up to loving homes in the Greenwich area, participating in Best Friends and other mega-adoption events. But along the way, despite the happy endings for lucky dogs that made it out alive, Wysocki and her partners – Suzanne Steinberg and Susan Maounis – realized the transports were “a drop in the bucket” of the larger dog overpopulation problem.

Given the strong reluctance to spay and neuter in places like Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, the Carolinas, Texas, Arkansas and Florida, transporting trucks full of southern dogs does little to solve the overpopulation problem. But, even for those willing to “fix” their pets, in many economically disadvantaged areas there simply isn’t access to veterinary care.

“It’s just not a priority, and because of that, the shelters in the South euthanize so many animals,” Wysocki said.

“In Macon County, Georgia, they euthanize 15,000 cats and dogs per year,” Wysocki said. “Contrast that to the 2,500 animals euthanized in the entire state of Connecticut in 2013.”

Wysocki and her partners had an epiphany: Why not find a way to increase the spaying and neutering of southern dogs? Wysocki recalled listening to Bob Barker’s book on tape. Barker, a staunch animal welfare advocate, talked about his girlfriend, Nancy Burnett, in his book. “So I called her,” Wysocki said, adding that she spent an hour on the phone with Burnett. “She said, ‘We don’t give a nickel for transporting any more because you’ll continue to spin your wheels and never make a difference.'”

With that thought in mind, Fido Fixers was born.

As it turns out, there are non-profit animal-welfare groups in the south that are eager to participate in low-cost spay and neuter programs. Wysocki said she and her partners did their homework before partnering with a non-profit. “They had to be legitimate and have community contacts,” she said. If the group passes muster, they lease the whole mobile clinic for $1.00 a month, with Fido Fixers paying for insurance, maintenance and repairs.

Fido Fixers started with one mobile spay-neuter truck. Now, there are three. They are leased by local non-profits in Eastern Tennessee, the city of Columbia and surrounding counties in South Carolina, as well as Macon County in Georgia. Raising funds for all three mobile clinics was no small feat considering each costs about $145,000.

Wysocki said Candy Udell of London Jewelers has been a great mentor, friend and supporter of Fido Fixers. “Candy has helped us identify areas in need of our services such as the group in Macon, Georgia,” Wysocki said.

“It’s a labor of love for us. We’re all animal advocates,” Wysocki said of herself and partners, Suzanne Steinberg and Susan Maounis. The trio are the major funders for Fido Fixers. None of them takes a salary. As a result, there is virtually no overhead and all funds raised go to the cost of the vehicles and insurance.

She said they’re eager to add another mobile clinic to their fleet next summer. “We want to send it to North Carolina, in an area near a big military base,” she said.

cat

One of Lisa Wysocki’s six cats gets some fresh air through the screen door. Credit: Leslie Yager.

Wysocki said the Fido Fixers mobile clinics come from La Boit, Inc. “They are the premier manufacturers of specialty trucks,” Lisa said, adding that she and her partners target the areas in the South with the highest euthanasia rates.

“We have a wait list of over 20 502(c)3 animal welfare organizations,” she added.

Fido Fixers

One of Fido Fixers’ three mobile clinics that brings spay and neuter to southern states, in particular to remote, rural areas where there may be no shelters or veterinarians. Contributed photo.

Fido Fixers

One of the three Fido Fixers mobile clinics, which are produced at La Boit Inc. Contributed photo.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 8.26.08 AM

Veterinarians working out of a Fido Fixers mobile clinic to help the cause. Contributed Photo.

And, as much as the Fido Fixers team is eager to fund the next mobile spay-neuter clinic, the fundraising is a constant challenge. Friends, family, and neighbors have been generous, and the three partners have run successful holiday boutiques over the years. But, Wysocki said, “We didn’t want to keep asking the same donors over and over, we have exhausted them. We need to expand our donor base.”
While the Fido Fixers trio was trying to find a way to fund more mobile clinics, destiny intervened when Maounis began experimenting in her kitchen, creating lotions and potions with plant-based, wholesome ingredients.

She started sharing them with her friends and neighbors, including Wysocki. The testers quickly became dependent on Maounis’ refreshing and clean scents, and noticed their skin and lips becoming more radiant and healthier looking. The demand grew and soon enough led to another venture. 100% of the profits made by The Skin Creamery benefit Fido Fixers.  The Skin Creamery products can be purchased online and at Empy’s Day Spa located at 143 West Putnam Ave.

For more details on how you can help put an end to “overpupulation,” visit fidofixers.org.

Emma smelling The Skin Creamery's citrus body butter scrub. Credit: Leslie Yager.

Emma smelling The Skin Creamery\’s citrus body butter scrub. Credit: Leslie Yager.

See also:

Dog Dilemma: Connecticut Shelter Dogs and the Southern Squeeze

Alabama Get Away: Jumbo Dog Transport Delivers 17 Dogs to CT

Northwind Kennels and ARK Charities Help Rescue 24 Sweet Southern Dogs 

Gov. Malloy Signs Pet Store Legislation During Stop at Greenwich Animal Control

Two Southern Black Labs the Jackpot in Greenwich

Greenwich Black Lab Puppy, Bella, Survived Parvo


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  • Carlotta

    I live in east Tennessee. There are only 60,000 people in my county — we have more cattle than people. And yet there are 15 vet offices within 10 miles of my house. There are plenty of low-cost and free spay/neuter programs in the area and people do take advantage of them. We do not have dogs wandering the streets here or litters of puppies being dumped. Euthanasia rates have been falling in the South, including Tennessee, for years. These ladies may be getting some dogs from rescues, but the idea that the South is full of people who do not spay/neuter their pets or take care of them properly is ludicrous and insulting.

  • greenwichfreepress

    Carlotta, Your town may represent an exception to the sad rule, and it is nice you live near veterinary services. Maybe you don’t see strays in the street where you live, but the euthanasia rate in southern states is still VERY high. The three Greenwich women funding the mobile spay/neuter clinics should be applauded.
    GFP Editor, owner of rescues from GA and TN

    • Carlotta

      There may be rural pockets that do not have access to good veterinary care, but they are the exception and not the rule. If you check animal control figures for almost any city or town in Tennessee and most places in the South, you should find that euthanasia numbers are drastically lower than they were just 10 years ago. Most of these figures are reported in newspapers here. I worked with a breed rescue 15 years ago and I’m still involved with dog activities. The picture being painted of dog owners in the South is inaccurate.

  • Elizabeth
  • Pet Overpopulation – Prove it!!

    The time has come for ALL breeders to take the high road against the animal “rights” threat to our animals. For too many years we have been playing catch up and even repeating the propaganda put up by the AR groups. It is time to say stand up and say – PROVE IT!!
    We hear over and over again about the “pet overpopulation” and yet there are NO accurate statistics to prove that this is happening. No one has gathered an accurate accounting on a national level. NAIA has started a shelter statistics study but they haven’t even begun to get total figures on a national level. We hear that rural shelters have an overabundance of animals being euthanized. Yet there are rescues transporting animals from one state to another, one shelter to another by a form of underground railroad run by volunteers. Even Wayne Pacelle of the H$U$ has stated “There is no longer a pet overpopulation in the U.S.” Nathan Winograd of the No-Kill Shelter movement wrote an entire book on the subject entitled “Redemption, the Myth of Pet Overpopulation.”
    Where is the accurate accounting for EVERY animal in and out of a shelter and an accounting of the reason why every animal is there? Counting feral cats, elderly animals whose owners bring them in for euthanasia and wild animals that have been injured can skew and pad shelter figures without indicating a “pet overpopulation” problem The ARs are demanding microchipping and spay/castration for all of our animals. The shelters should be held to the same standard to prevent animals from bouncing from one shelter to another and being counted multiple times. If there are rural shelters with too many animals, why are shelters in New York, New Jersey, Florida and California importing dogs from foreign countries such as Mexico, China, Israel, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas? According to the USDA, shelters IMPORTED more than 300,000 dogs in 2013.
    We need to start a grassroots movement to DEMAND shelter accountability starting with our local shelters – city by city, county by county, state by state until this MYTH of “pet overpopulation” is proven to be either true or the falsehood many of us believe it to be. It is estimated that 75% of all American pets are spayed/castrated. Even Nathan Winograd, one of the earliest proponents of the no-kill shelter system and someone who tends to lean towards the AR philosophies is not buying into this MYTH anymore. His latest book is entitled “Redemption, The Myth of Pet Overpopulation”.
    I do not want to hear from 50 or 100 individual shelters saying “you are wrong because WE have a pet overpopulation problem”. No – you do not. And YES, I have worked in shelters. Here’s the thing – if we have shelters IMPORTING animals from foreign countries then we do NOT have a “pet overpopulation” problem. We have as Mr. Winograd lays out in his book, a combination of “pet distribution” problems, shelter management problems and an “owner responsibility” problem. Shelters in rural areas have too many dogs. Shelters in urban areas have too few – that’s a problem that we can find a way to fix. Shelters have hours when people are at work so they can’t come to look at animals. That’s a problem that can be fixed. Shelters don’t have money to keep accurate records. That’s a problem that can be fixed. Take some of those volunteer dog walkers and ask them to donate a few hours behind a computer doing record keeping instead. Shelters have dogs that are dumped because their previous owners didn’t train the dog due to either lack of interest, time or expertise. Solution – foster homes, purebred rescues, volunteers to take and train dogs so that they are placable. Too many shelters are not looking at the bigger picture. They are so close to their local problem they aren’t seeing the forest for the trees and they are not looking for solutions close to home with the resources they already have or looking for help from other shelters. I will not buy that there is a “pet overpopulation” problem as long as any shelter in this country is importing dogs from other countries for “adoption.” I will not buy into this after attending the NAIA national conference last year and listening to a gentleman from Canada tell how he turned his shelter around by using positive methods rather than punishing people who have animals get loose or bring animals to his shelter. At his shelter people don’t get blamed for giving up an animal as if they are committing the crime of the century.
    This is what I am referring to – the blame game – blaming breeders for shelter population is the AR shill game. Breeders are NOT the source of the problem whether they are commercial or hobby breeders. Breeders are NOT putting animals in shelters and killing them. Poor management of the issue of pets is what is killing animals in shelters. So for any local shelter that thinks they have a “pet overpopulation” problem – count heads – how many of those “pets” are actually young, cute, and easily placed and how many are ferals, older animals that have health problems, animals brought in by owners for euthanasia or those that are out of control and need an experienced trainer to deal with them. Then once you have taken a realistic look at your shelter population, do the same for the shelters in NJ, NY, CA or FL. Then go read Mr. Winograd’s book and get back to me. (P.S. I don’t get a kickback from Mr. Winograd – just happen to think he has some answers). You should read Nathan Winograd’s book “Redemption, The Myth of Pet Overpopulation” and it will give you a better understanding of the scope of the problem. He is one of the founders of the No-Kill Shelter movement and believes that there are three reasons that dogs are in shelters (besides the imports) 1) poor shelter management (most of them are underfunded and understaffed) 2) poor owner retention 3) poor pet distribution. There are shelters in NY, NJ, RI, CN, FL, CA, MA and other states that have to import dogs in order to have ANY young adoptable animals. 70 to 80% of all American pets are spayed and neutered. There is likely to be a SHORTAGE of all dogs especially purebreds within 20 years. Look at the AKC registrations and how far they have dropped just in the last 10 years. The pet overpopulation myth is being built by those who have made an industry out of shelters and a virtue out of adopting a “mutt” instead of buying a purebred, health tested puppy from a breeder. I believe that people who adopt from shelters are extremely brave since they have NO idea what they are getting. People frequently LIE when they drop a dog off at a shelter in the hopes of getting the dog a new home. They lie about health problems. They lie about behavioral issues. And then the new owner has just “adopted” a ticking time bomb. For many families – especially those with young children – a well socialized health tested purebred dog from a breeder is a far better bet.
    The time is NOW!! Just because groups like HSUS and PeTA say it is so doesn’t make it true. Stand up and say it every time they say “pet overpopulation” – “I want PROOF. Not opinion – facts, figures, the actual numbers – irrefutable proof that will stand up in a court of law. Prove it or SHUT UP!!”

    http://aspcapro.org/blog/2014/04/09/my-neighbor-bought-puppy-internet
    http://www.aspcapro.org/where-will-the-puppies-come-from
    http://www.thedogplace.org/SHELTERS/Shelter-Imports_Witouski-102.asp

  • al smith

    interesting that the editor owns two dogs bought from rescues in the “south” and actually claims that there is “strong reluctance to spay and neuter in places like Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, the Carolinas, Texas, Arkansas and Florida, ” really this is supposed to be journalism? or is it free advertisement for a product? either way it is full of innuendo and bigotry. Thank you Carlotta for setting her record straight

    • greenwichfreepress

      The editor went through reputable Connecticut rescue groups: Strays & Others and Shelley’s Angels Saving Strays (SASS). Not “bought from rescues in the south,” though there is a network of cooperation between animal lovers in the north and south.
      The Tennessee dog, 7 years old, had been fostered by Shelley of SASS after the owner surrendered him to kill shelter. Her “reason” was she had a flea infestation she was not prepared to combat. Shelley took are of him and he put on needed weight. His fur began to grow back. He arrived with a large crude tattoo on his stomach.
      The other, from Georgia, one-year old was a day away from being euthanized. Both are black labs who are euthanized at a horrifying rate in southern states. I would call that rescue. I have also adopted a pit bull mix from a Connecticut animal control shelter. But the reluctance to spay and neuter in the south is absolutely NOT A MYTH.
      There absolutely is a strong reluctance to spay and neuter. This after dozens of feature stories and years of interviews with a variety of sources, including the head of the Dept of Agriculture, numerous state and local ACOs, people who do transport, Veterinarians north and south. Yes there are disreputable rescues. I tell people to do their homework. One of our most popular features was about a Connecticut rescue run by a man with many convictions of animal cruelty.
      What you call “a free advertisement” we call “awareness.” Long live Fido Fixers! Three amazing women!

  • The rant by the breeder/puppy mill owner shows how justifiably threatened that industry is. Due to years of irresponsible breeding that has lead to the downfall of many great breeds due to severe and life-threatening health issues (e.g. Boxers, Bulldogs, Pugs, King Charles Spaniels), many educated dog owners see the beauty and sweet tempers of their friends and neighbors rescued dogs. Once the word gets out about how wonderful and healthy the rescue dogs are, an educated dog owner, who gets a rescue dog, rarely goes back to a breeder/puppy mill dog.

    Additionally, as the public awareness has increased concerning the inhumane living conditions of puppy mills, dog owners with a conscience refuse to want to support the cruelty. The fact is that while the euthanasia rate has fallen from the 1960s, today there are four million deaths per year in American shelters and most are from the south.