This story has been updated to include the overall funds that Janel has raised through the Northeast Animal Support Alliance.
Local animal lover Kim Janel’s life changed when a 160-pound rottweiler-mastiff mix named Rocky entered her life.
The Hopewell resident had been doing animal fundraising and rescue for years when she got a call about Rocky, a 1 year old dog in Newark’s overcrowded animal shelter on death row.
“I was told that his time was up,” Janel says. “I was desperately trying to find a rescue to take him.”
The shelter was full to capacity and he was going to be euthanized. At the time, her home was full of four children and two dogs she had previously rescued.
However, she could not let young Rocky go.
“He would’ve had to die because of the lack of funding,” she says. “So I took him without anywhere to bring him and I just decided to put him in my car.”
Seeing Rocky’s almost fatal predicament two and a half years ago inspired Janel to begin her organization, the Northeast Animal Support Alliance, which raises awareness and funds for rescue animals.
She runs her organization on her own, fundraising and soliciting donations for animal rescues such as EASEL Animal Rescue League, Capital K9 Association, the German Shepherd Rescue of NJ, and the Trenton Cats Rescue.
“Basically, I’m a rescue for rescues,” she says. “I realized I could support the rescues that pull dogs from shelters and raise as much money as I can.”
In doing this, Janel saw that she could save more dogs from being euthanized. She helps out rescue organizations in times of crisis—when they are in need of emergency vet bills, money for boarding, and food.
“Anything that they need I try to provide just to keep them afloat,” she says.
Janel raises money through different events that she hosts throughout the year, as well as donations.
Her largest fundraising event has been the annual Spring Community Festival that took place in April at Rosedale Mills. She says attendance tripled in size in the festival’s second year, with around 1,500 attendees. Last year’s festival was the first Janel has ever organized.
Local restaurants came from Hopewell such as the Blue Bottle Café, donating a portion of the proceeds to her organization. More than 50 vendors and 100 local businesses participated as well.
“There were adorable dogs all over the place,” Janel says with rescue dogs along with cats available for adoption.
$4,500 was presented to the Capital K9 Association in a ceremony at the event, money that Janel fundraised for. In total, Janel says she has raised more than $16,000 for her cause.
They’re an organization from Mercer that works to provide police dogs with bulletproof vests and other safety equipment.
“I try to pick something I really believe in,” she says in reference to the animal organizations she chooses to help. “I knew there was a waiting list for vests.”
The money raised afforded bulletproof vests for two Ewing Township police dogs and one Lawrence Township police dog.
“It was very touching because everyone that donated got to see the dog as a result of their donation,” Janel says.
The money also gave the West Windsor Township Unit a “Hot-N-Pop” system, which includes a heat sensor for a police vehicle that turns on the air conditioning so a police dog won’t get too hot inside the car. The equipment also allows for policemen to press a button on their vest that will open the car door for the dog if they need them but are unable to reach the vehicle.
A lot of the Northeast Animal Support Alliance’s fundraising efforts go to emergency vet bills as well. She’s been working with Lori Duggan, her emergency veterinarian, for a little over a year.
“We have a vet whos amazing and works with us,” Janel says. “She gives us a discount and works on a sliding scale, giving me a payment plan.
Janel says she then will try and fundraise to get the money back or pay for the rest of it herself.
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In addition to monetary support, Janel’s husband Steve provides free legal services to the rescue organizations.
He is a general practice attorney in Pennington at the law offices of Steven D. Janel and has been providing free legal work to rescues for around 7 years.
“I married the right man,” Janel says. “He’s amazing and he never says no.”
He also writes all of the press releases for the Northeast Animal Support Alliance.
Janel says she, her husband and Duggan are really all that keeps the alliance going. “I just have really good people to rely on [who] care and love animals,” she says.
Rescue organizations always ask Janel how they can give back, but she says she wants nothing in return. However, when she needs volunteers, she turns to them for help. “I always encourage rescues to help rescues,” she says.
Along with volunteers, she also enlists the service of her animal loving children who are more than happy to help.
“It’s something that we do together as a family,” she says.
Last year, her eldest son and his friends helped make blankets that were donated to the Newark shelter.
She says it was eye opening for her son and friends to visit the shelter.
“I think it’s important for them to know that these dogs aren’t damaged, you can get a perfectly good dog at a a rescue or a shelter,” she says.
Her eldest son and daughter help out in so many ways including helping her foster dogs while her eight and nine year old sons help make T-shirts and goodie bags for rescues to sell at adoptions.
They live at home with their three dogs Sadie, a basset hound mix, Puggle, who is a Puggle, and Rocky.
Rocky is now the face of her organization’s Facebook page.
Janel’s organization is growing and she hopes to recruit more volunteers. She says she loves what she does and does not look at it as work.
“It really comes down to mere dollars sometimes, that could be the difference between saving a life and leaving a dog in a shelter that is going to be euthanized.”