Tampa, Florida - At animal shelters throughout the Tampa Bay area, you'll find face after furry face pleading for a home. And that's why Rick Medina spends so much of his time at a Tampa thrift shop.
"It's like having a very inexpensive Macy's," Medina says while refolding stacks of jeans. "You have to keep cleaning and straightening."
Medina has always loved animals, but after he adopted a greyhound, he got more involved in animal issues. Eventually in 2009 he started the not-for-profit Animal Based Charities (ABC) and opened a thrift store at 4340 S. Manhattan Avenue to raise money.
"It's truly a need," he says of the effort. "Every little animal has a sad story and every little animal has the right to a nice life."
So how does a thrift shop help animals? Money raised by the store helps Animal Based Charities stage large animal adoption events. For example, at Pet-A-Palooza last March at Clearwater's Coachman Park, visitors found fun, but also dozens of rescue groups with animals in need of homes. Similar events have also been staged at the USF Sun Dome.
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has participated in the giant expos and Executive Director Sherry Silk says they're effective. "Sometimes they'll be 200-300 animals to choose from and it just helps with the whole adoption process."
Over the past three years, Medina says the events have helped place more than 2,000 animals and that's Making a Difference.